WWD reports that Consuelo Castiglioni, the Italian genius who cofounded the label Marni with her husband in 1994, will leave the house as creative director. Her replacement is Francesco Risso, who worked at Anna Molinari, Alessandro Dell’Acqua, and Malo before landing at Prada for special projects. He is the latest appointment in a string of men given the top position in houses primarily known for womenswear (Marni launched a menswear line in 2007).
Castiglioni’s Spring 2017 was rumored to be her last during Milan Fashion Week last month, so her confirmation doesn’t entirely come as a surprise; Marni’s majority-stake owners Only the Brave told WWD that the decision was hers alone:
“These were hectic and exciting years, which absorbed all of my energies to create a project I am proud of,” Castiglioni said. “Thanks also to the constant support of my family, who allowed me to stay true to my idea, I built a brand with a precise and recognizable identity. The time has now come to dedicate myself to my private life. I thank all the people who believed in this project and who, with loyal dedication, have helped me along this fantastic journey.”
Marni is a bold line with an unmistakable vision of the strong and creative woman; in a 2014 interview with the Telegraph celebrating the label’s 20th anniversary, Castiglioni said, “I design for an independent woman. She dresses for herself, not to please others or to be judged. She wears Marni because she feels good in it, individual... I don’t like clothes that are tight or fitted, clothes that are about… [she spits out the word] SEX. This you will NEVER find in my collections. There is femininity, but it is an elegant femininity.” The Telegraph also wrote:
Certainly, the fact that Marni’s clothes are designed by a woman, for women, is palpable. These are clothes that are comfortable, that are built to last, that even have - shock - pockets. That they are also expensive goes without saying. What does she say to the wannabe Marni woman, who loves that jacket at £800 but can’t afford it? “Better to buy one beautiful thing than lots of less beautiful things, to have one thing you really love rather than lots of things you are less passionate about.”
Surely her replacement, Francesco Risso, is talented; WWD reports that his education comes from Florence Polimoda, FIT and Central Saint Martin’s, three of the most prestigious places to study fashion. But it’s hard not to feel a little sad conceptually that one of the few major womenswear houses led by a strong woman, for strong women, is being taken over by a man, no matter how prodigious. At a certain point, it feels like being told that women aren’t qualified or creative enough to dictate what goes on our own bodies; and as Miranda Priestly’s legendary Devil Wears Prada cerulean speech reiterated, what high-end fashion designers do trickles down to every aspect of our style culture. I didn’t expect to be so emotionally devastated over this, but the thought of Italian fashion without Castiglioni in it is about as significant as if Miuccia left Prada. We need powerful women with perspectives like they have.
Risso’s first collection will be Fall 2017, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Until then, let’s peek at some of Consuelo Castiglioni’s gorgeous work.