Antonio Marras is Milan fashion's romantic poet, so there was a perfect synchronicity in his latest inspiration: Bright Star, Jane Campion's movie about the doomed romance between John Keats and Fanny Brawne. As limpidly gorgeous as that film was, Marras saw it and raised it 20. One of his favorite scenes shows Fanny and her sister releasing a butterfly, so his invitation was a box of butterflies. And 40 models walked through clouds of paper butterflies for his finale, wearing outfits reconfigured from old aprons with lace and embroidery. They were unique pieces from Laboratorio, Marras' "couture" studio, but it looked like just as much work had gone into everything else on the runway.
That's because Marras is such a great collagist, stitching together not just fabrics but times and places. And with fashion taking a turn for the romantic, his magpie vision has rarely looked better. Case in point: Keats being English and male (however intensely consumptive), Marras took a cue or two from British menswear traditions, in particular the trenchcoat. But he sliced off sleeves, added floral inserts, and tacked on a lace hem, so the trench became an entirely personal statement. It was the same with his prints. Gardens are blooming all over Milan's catwalks, but Marras layered roses, wrapped a floral apron over a flowing white dress, shirred a vintage bathing suit from blooms and then paraded a chiffon shift of poppies that was surely the ravishing last word on the trend.
Marras gets the past in an instinctive way that few other designers can match. But he is much too canny for simple historicism. This collection also included silver flip-flops, a graphic black-and-white cropped jacket over one of those shirred bathing suits, and a pleated black waistcoat decorated with handfuls of coq feathers. They were just some of the stand-alone pieces that attested to this designer's grasp of an easy, modern glamour.