Madness and the Marni Method

Published June 27, 2013

All things considered, Marni’s spring menswear lineup was something of a release. Consuelo Castiglioni has always exercised an obsession with tailored and color-blocked simplicity in her collections for men, but this season saw her clinical streak give way to a sort of mad science. From the first look—a billowing green-yellow gabardine cape that evoked one giant latex glove—the presentation staked its claim somewhere between strictly appropriate and slightly eccentric. Elsewhere, shirts came partially unbuttoned and half un-tucked, but very intentionally so. If Castiglioni was letting loose, it was in a precisely measured way.

The contradiction panned out well. Double-faced shorts seemed slouchier and baggier than they really were, and a boyish-looking hoodie with elastic cuffs was cut from pristinely soft leather. It worked the other way around, too, in a range of formalwear that didn’t feel so formal: suits were made of denim and mélange cotton, subtly sporty blazers came with barely visible, blue-on-black raglan sleeves, and dress shorts hid casual details like stretchy waistbands and zippered pockets.

Oversize abstractions by German illustrator Katja Schwalenberg appeared throughout—in small, controlled doses, of course. “I found her book and fell in love,” Castiglioni recalls of discovering the artist and asking her to collaborate. “It has a strong graphic impact, but with a naïve touch.” Printed on a set of crisp white shirts and tees, her drawings laced the whole outing with a sense of play. Restraint still ruled, but that’s never a problem at Marni. It gives these slight deviations such thrilling, concentrated impact.