This country of Italy has a long history of throwing people to the lions. The Colosseum in Rome was built for such gladiatorial contests and public spectacles.
Maybe the fact that the ancient Roman building is being restored with the support of shoe emperor Diego Della Valle is encouraging the fashion world to revive this cruel sport. Because there was absolutely no need to stage a full collection by Francesco Risso, the designer who was only appointed late last October to take over from Marni’s founder Consuelo Castiglioni.
For Francesco, this could have been an intriguing little show where he talked to a small number of viewers and explained the whys and whats of a fluffy pink fur over a dawn blue dress and heels shaped like shoe horns.
I had met up with Francesco in Paris to view his first pre-season collection and had been impressed by his imaginative prints and good design. With a brief presentation in Milan, there could have been a table in the venue to display the jewellery: baubles like daubs of treacle.
But instead, there was the runway show with no explanation except a scribble of drawings. And then afterwards an e-mailed letter with messages such as: “A being caught in the act of creating her own reality. I am one, a being, who brings things into being” – and so on. No doubt his point was lost in translation.
Francesco started his career with Prada. Hence, perhaps, the plainly cut clothes, falling big on the body. There was a reminder of his mentor too in the furry wine-red scarf clashing with a ginger skirt. Those deliberate suggestions of an ugly aesthetic were also very Miuccia.
It is wise to follow an exceptional creative role model, before you have found a style of your own. But there should have more focus on the Marni history and especially the love of nature that was a key element of Consuelo's spirit from the outset. A visible bra in deck-chair red stripes over a slim silvered dress said nothing about Marni.
Rome – and its famous Colosseum – was not built in a day. Nor will Francesco find a new path for Marni overnight. But he deserves a chance to build his own ideas – with feeling and with time.