V MALOUF STUDIO | Design Strategist & Experience Specialist


Well, this is awkward


Back when Consuelo Castiglioni left Marni in 2016 I was sad and indignant. Her husband, daughter, and son all left at the same time, not long after Marni was acquired fully by Only The Brave, which owns Diesel, Margiela, and a few others. I assumed the worst. Consuelo, whose vision and process made no room for any kind of fast fashion, see-now-buy-now tactics, was being pushed aside for someone who could step in line and turn Marni into a major player. It makes business sense. Marni made a splash but didn't move the kind of product it could. Its mens line was chiefly popular in Asia, never doing the numbers of competitors like Prada. However, Marni did do something casually miraculous: they regularly turned out an industrial product that had the warmth and value of the handmade. Not even Hermès can consistently do that. As soon as they were acquired, I started planning for the day when that little miracle would disappear. I was not alarmed without cause. 

The new dude in charge is Francesco Risso, a Central St. Martins and Prada alum who did nothing to endear me to him with his inaugural presentation for women. In fact, in that collection, he got the Marni woman nearly completely wrong. To paraphrase Tim Blanks, Consuelo's Marni practically invented a perfect alloy of nuttiness and elegance. Not only did it fit me perfectly (figuratively and literally), but it was genuine and inviting where competitors were cool, steely, and clever. These were clothes for someone with a bookish heart and a brave soul. Risso's first stab at Marni womenswear on the other hand, should have been called Diesel Quirky Gold. (That's the meanest/most accurate thing I can think to say.) As a buddy of mine said, "Women will riot." The menswear was better but still lacked the beautiful and delicate thing that Consuelo spent decades making. It was more than a shame. It was a loss deeply felt. 

In relatively short order, Risso has found his footing. He can't capture Consuelo's spirit and he doesn't even try. Where Consuelo's Marni was kooky, Risso's is often outright unhinged. It's nice stuff, often beautifully done. I may even have to eat my words and buy a piece or two from the current collection. I'm not quite ready to say that I'm glad Risso is here; the wounds are still a little fresh. But he's certainly not wasting our time. He may yet carve out territory in the fashion landscape if he can zero in further on this new Marni customer. He certainly has the chops to make some money for Marni. Maybe then they'll really let him loose. 

Vincent Malouffashion, Marni