There is no better way of describing what has gone on chez Marni since Risso took the reins there some two years ago. Like a mad scientist, he blows our minds on Sunday mornings in Milan, continuing his gothic stories of eccentric, dystopian creatures in garments that look like they were ripped from the tapestries of fabled old houses. He is a master of his own entirely idiosyncratic game, and that’s the best position any designer could find themselves in. (Huge credit to Renzo Rosso, his boss at OTB, for placing designers like Risso and John Galliano at the fashion houses he owns, Maison Margiela included. We need them.) It’s a treat to the eye, from the truly soulful garments to the fanciful sets. This season, the All Too Humanexhibition at Tate Britain where Risso became enthralled with nudes in bedroom settings by painters like Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud and Jenny Saville, inspired a massive communal bedchamber where beds doubled as seats.
“They felt so strong and so visceral,” he said of the paintings, “and that power to the body suggested sculptures.” He worked those in through said prints, filtering in his Frankenstein reference in ghoulishly-stitched leather bustiers and ripped lace numbers. If it sounds literal it’s because it was, but Risso’s canvas can handle it. There’s no such thing as basic in his world, often for the fact that his garments are so openly unravelling anyway. “It’s classicism with metamorphosis still in progress. You have to imagine the painters work on the canvas: it’s about trials and mistakes before getting to the sculpture and the marble. And that becomes the work itself,” he pointed out. “Drapes that are subtracted, shapes that are added, and vice versa. Fingertips that are throwing living tempera onto the pieces; and so these situates, they become alive. They bloom.”