Antonio Marras' shop is a vine-covered oasis in a weather-beaten stone building secreted away from the Via Cola di Rienzo by a long entryway. But for the air of glamorous decay, it might as well be a gated community. It houses his showroom and, as of this season, his men's show, too. It's trite to call Marras an insider's secret, but it's fair to say that his world, off the beaten trail, is a reward for those who find it—it certainly was for those who attended his first men's showing in years.
Marras' collection was conceived as an homage to his father, who owned a fabric shop with Antonio's uncle and namesake. Marras the younger learned or inherited his father's passion for cloth. "I started looking into his archive to find fabrics I like," Marras explained, "and then remade them." The bounty was so great that there was hardly a piece that didn't include at least a handful of different fabrics: stitched or needle-punched together, bonded or lined. The most complex was a double-breasted coat that morphed from felt to wool to shearling in a seemingly impossible gradient, but that was only the most overt example. Japanese nylon jackets reversed to jersey; leather biker jackets ended in suit-jacket sleeves. Marras' father, in an image taken from an old photograph, presided over the whole, printed or collaged onto shirts.
The collection, multifaceted as it was, could've been taken for a fabric shop's guerrilla marketing campaign, a sort of latter-day plumping for father by son. (The shop is no more, but the elder Marras has turned his cataloging instinct toward his tie collection; according to Antonio, he has more than 300.) But the steadfastly casual shapes, all the breezy drawstring trousers, T-shirts, and sweats, kept it from feeling overwrought. It made for a welcome reintroduction to Marras, a designer neither especially young nor especially buzzy at a time when those qualities are often seen as tantamount to achievement or prerequisites for success. His remains an out-of-the-way world. But it was a charming surprise for those who found it, and it would be cheering to think that others might now pay it a visit.