Francisco Risso debuted at Marni in January 2017. Fresh off the success of his Spring 2019 menswear collection, Risso has weathered the first year at a storied fashion house. When he arrived he struggled to match his creativity with the legacy of Counselo Castiglioni, his predecessor, the house’s founder, and to shed parts of his own design handwriting which were too redolent of Prada, his former place of work.
As time has gone by—which isn’t a lot come to think of it but 10 seasons at a fashion house is worthy of a gold medal—he has melded his aesthetic with Marni, envisioning a more modern rendition of the house. For Spring 2019 he tackled the ubiquitous theme of sportswear.
He described his interpretation of sportswear as his ‘Imaginary Olympics.’ Of course, sportswear at Marni could only be characterised by an eclectic hodgepodge of colours, patterns, and silhouettes. He layered vest tops over t-shirts, pairing them with loose-fitting shirts and pulled-up socks; he infused the erotic with prints of Florian Hetz’s hypersexual photography and artist Betsy Podlach’s sensual, poetic nude paintings—it beautifully juxtaposed with the charming naivety of Risso’s riff on sportswear.
A point was made about his casting. It was diverse, for one: he’s one of the few designers at Milan Fashion Week intent of diversifying a pool of white models in the Italian fashion capital; Miuccia Prada and Angela Missoni are others.
He attempted to shift male beauty standards with his casting, from rail-thin adolescent models, ones that slouch like question marks and look displeased, to fuller types. Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane are proponents of the skinny man, the duo at Dolce & Gabbana propagate ideals about washboard abs and bulging biceps. Risso wants to shift that paradigm and it’s a subject as relevant as ever in the current climate where issues around body politics are coming to the fore. Perhaps next season there could be more forceful efforts in that field but the grounds for change were present. In a typically unwavering fashion system, subtle changes have to be accepted in the same way as radical ones.
The changes he made this season reflect the image of Marni he’s trying to create—its eccentricity is primed for everyone.