Wor is it Francesco? Two hours before the Marni show there is a commotion on Rue de l’Université in Paris. Models in white bathrobes stand in the lobby and wait for announcements. Technicians give instructions in their headphones, musicians in white coats tune their instruments on the first floor and the designer has to be somewhere too. But where? The view wanders through the rooms. Didn’t Francesco Risso have dark curls pointing in all directions? Or are they blonde now, like he wore them during the pandemic? Or does the hair, as has already happened, stand out like spikes from the head? The PR finally points to the bald man in suede pants and a white T-shirt who is running up the marble stairs: “There he is!” Francesco Risso, this time without hair.
In a way, it is what defines Italian. Constant changes. This does not mean those that are inevitable in the world of fashion: the changing of seasons, the changing of trends. The creative director of the Milanese brand Marni loves to do everything a little differently from others. During the Corona period, he sent clothes from his collection to 48 friends and acquaintances around the world who were to film themselves wearing them. The result could be seen online. After Corona he decided to present his projects in other cities instead of Milan as usual. In an interview he states that he is a kind of stroller in this global world. The first stop was New York, then Tokyo. Lui presents his latest collection this afternoon in Paris. Fashion for next spring. An appearance that also takes you back to the past.
A show in the “Little Versailles”
Anyone who crosses the large door on Rue de l’Université in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district is initially surprised. What lies behind is not one of the normal five- to seven-story buildings that characterize the Paris cityscape. Rather, it is a magnificent palace, as one might expect on the outskirts of the capital. “Little Versailles”, visitors will whisper later. Baroque-style rooms with gilded walls and mirrors, artistic parquet floors, a huge ballroom overlooking a large park: all this in the center of Paris.
When Risso came to Paris with his team six months ago, an agency suggested this place to him. A city building that had just changed hands and remained empty until the new owners moved in. The perfect backdrop for a spectacular parade.
“Lagerfeld was a hero for me”
When Risso talks about that day, his words are unleashed. At the time he did not immediately understand that this Hôtel particulier, as the city palace is called in French, was a place he already knew. Risso was 15 when he went to visit a friend who lived with her parents in Paris in the mid-1990s. Coincidentally, a certain Karl Lagerfeld lived next door, in that same magnificent building. Lagerfeld! A sensation for Risso. The quiet boy who was born on a boat in 1982 while his hippie parents spent years sailing the Mediterranean, and who later grew up in extended family in Genoa and began cutting up and reassembling his six siblings’ clothes to express himself – this shy the boy was suddenly so close to the great designer.
“For me he was a hero, comparable to a rock star,” says Risso. Then he and his girlfriend spent entire days sitting at the window looking at the courtyard, observing when Lagerfeld left the house, when he returned, what he wore, who he talked to. “We literally spied on him,” he says today, laughing, “he was obsessive.”