The Marni invitation is usually a card of saturated color. This season's was blank white, the name embossed tone on tone—change was clearly afoot. On the catwalk there was a white cotton sundress that was as simple a thing as Consuelo Castiglioni has ever shown. That's what she was after: "More clean, more fresh, more light," she said. The prints that made Marni's name no longer seem to interest Castiglioni as much as proportion, and the best way to illustrate that is with a monochrome palette, a conclusion which, thanks to Cristobal Balenciaga, feeds the essence of haute couture. Not saying that Marni approaches such heights, but there was plenty in Castiglioni's black and white experiments with controlling volume today that echoed the shapely sophistication of a couturier.
Still, the girl can't help it. She loves herself a graphic. The show opened with a section in checks created by an artful interplay of nylon jacquard tape and cotton ribbon. It was an airy, light embodiment of Castiglioni's game plan, and a well-judged appetizer for a series of sober, solid-colored outfits that focused on pure shape. But then Castiglioni dropped in some print: a sack-backed spectacular with a front panel of plastic paillettes that vibrated with hyper-color was a stunning reminder of Marni's authority in this area of idiosyncratic style. There was more to come in the form of a coat in fil coupé over a skirt in a matching print.
But it was the blankness of black and white that had clearly captured Castiglioni's imagination this season. It was easy to see why, when a handful of peplumed beauties made their way down the catwalk. Even easier with a closing outfit of a crow black coat shaggy with glittering splinters over an embossed skirt with the gloss of an oil spill. Also infinitely worthy of mention: the shoes inspired by designer Carlo Mollino, with platforms of Lucite or metal, and the jewelry, small and perfectly formed from wood.