March 10, 2009
Antonio Marras' response to fashion's fiscal woes was an escape into the romance of Mother Russia—with winsomely detailed show notes rolled up inside little matryoshka dolls that waited on everyone's seat. A passing nod to Doctor Zhivago cued the designer's focus on love in a time of revolution: For every folkloric flounce there was a Bolshevik reference, too. It made for a collection of distinct contrasts: the pouf-sleeved, tiered dress in a gilded floral print that opened the show, say, versus a jacket and skirt of transfigured military fatigues. An army jacket over a floor-sweeping skirt brought to mind Diane Keaton in Reds, but Marras was rarely that literal. One apparatchik ensemble was banded in fur; peasant patchwork was quilted into a high-necked coat-dress; another coat might have been suitable for the front line if it hadn't been sequined in gold.
There was a lot of inspiration in Marras' source materials—all those "lonely dachas," as he put it, filled with embroideries, tapestries, and carpets. He ramped up the florals in a series of draped dresses, but the show's doses of floor-length action made it hard to escape the lingering sense that the air in those lonely dachas might be a bit stuffy. A cable-knit dress studded with holly berries (that's holly, not Halle) scarcely blew out the cobwebs.