under an ocean of rubbish, marni’s francesco risso challenges fashion to act on the climate crisis
“Let’s rebel. Let’s be vocal about our beliefs, or let’s just wear them.”
“I get itchy from the words ‘political’ and ‘sustainable’ because nobody can really be sustainable one hundred percent and politics can be misinterpreted,” Francesco Risso explained post-show after the latest Marni presentation. “That said, each little step makes a positive change and today, there’s no escaping politics or sustainable.”
Titled Act 1, Marni’s spring/summer 20 men’s show was Francesco’s first step toward creating a more positive future. This was a creative call-to-arms, a rejection of the sociopolitical shit show we all find ourselves living through today. It was a reaction against the climate crisis that could end our tomorrow. “Let’s act up, dear friends,” the show’s narrator told us over the speakers before the models walked out. “Let’s rebel. Let’s be vocal about our beliefs, or let’s just wear them. Let’s do it pleasurably. Rebellion is beautiful and beauty is rebellious. Let the rite commence, and never end.”
Under a fishnet filled with plastic and industrial waste, Francesco Risso engaged with the industry’s conversation around ethics and sustainability. He directly confronted the fashion set with the crisis that casts a bleak shadow over our future, by hanging rubbish over their heads. “The set is the result of months of recuperating plastic, from industrial waste to the ocean and beyond,” he told us. “Alongside our production team, the studio collected it all and the next stage will see it all reworked and reprocessed.” Act 2, he explained, will see Berlin-based artist Judith Hopf forge a new artwork regenerating all the plastic collected and displayed at today’s show. Despite everything that mankind has done to damage our Earth, Francesco finds hope in the creative power of humans.
The collection was a study in clashes — Francesco namechecked Truman Capote and Che Guevara as influences. He gathered artefacts from opposing worlds and jumbled everything together in the tumble dryer that is his mind. “It’s a marriage between inventive rebels and 50s control freaks, all looking for the Noah’s Ark in a completely corrupted nature,” he explained. Field jackets and familiar military and camo garb were given tropical slants. Waste-strewn landscapes were painted onto shirts or turned into a jacquard. Many looks were topped with hats made of garbage by the artist Shalva Nikvashvili, and adorned by a bestiary of bizarre animals by the artist Kazuma Nagai — the most apt of which featured the long extinct dodo wearing a gas mask.
Since he replaced Consuelo Castiglioni at the helm of the off-kilter luxury label that she built, Francesco has personified the fresh energy and sense of excitement that has revived Milan in recent seasons. His Marni is youthful, unexpected, thought provoking and fun. Here, he added a more conscious tone and sense of urgent action. It’s a sentiment that echoes that of the next generation of activists urging change across the world.