“It was the longest week of my life,” Antonio Marras says, referring to the days before his runway show in September during Milan Fashion Week — a complex production that yielded a powerful emotional charge. As Marras’ wife Patrizia Sardo ironically put it, welcoming WWD at the show: “We always like simple things!”
The complexity stemmed from the fact that the event took place inside Milan’s Teatro Lirico, which is being gutted and restored after being closed for 25 years.
“As soon as I got into the theater, it was love at the first sight. It left me breathless,” says Marras, who was originally asked by the [artistic and cultural] Gianfranco Dioguardi Fondazione to present a project to decorate the façade. Shortly after, the designer was asked if it would be possible for him to hold the show at the theater. “I said ‘Everything is possible.’ So we started.”
The designer’s show actually inaugurated Gianfranco Dioguardi Fondazione’s “Cantiere-Evento [Construction-Event]” project aimed at bringing life to locations that are being restored in order to involve the public in the process.
“Three days before the show, we were still forced to wear helmets to stay inside the theater and we were having the feeling that everything might suddenly fall through,” said Marras, who had to build a catwalk and connect two backstage areas located roughly one kilometer from each other. “Being in a theater, I immediately thought I would do something very connected to the space,” he explained.
And how: Marras orchestrated a spectacle that combined a runway show, a theater and dance performance, an aerialist in a swing and a marching band. Everything — from the runway to the guests — was surrounded by cinderblocks and scaffolding, which enhanced the poetic feel of the designer’s collection, which was inspired by the deep, profound love story between actress Giulietta Masina and film director Federico Fellini.
“With this show I asked guests to be patient and give me 20 minutes of their time,” Marras said. “Being in a theater I thought that I needed time to indulge my craziness.”
And guests seemed absolutely happy to enjoy the moment. The show was definitely Instagram-friendly with its overhead performer showering petals, beautiful dresses, an imposing set, and models that emoted, danced and kissed in random couplings for the finale. The spectacle helped gain 4,000 Instagram followers. At the same time, however, it offered an emotional and entertaining respite from the hectic pace of Milan Fashion Week. Breaking the established rules of fashion shows based on the perfect balance between efficiency, speed and high-impact engagement, Marras embraced a slower, highly personal approach, which captivated the audience.
The designer also explained that the Fellini-inspired narrative behind the show guided the casting process. “We chose unconventional faces, personalities who are already characters in their personal life, who would be able to create an interaction on the stage,” says the designer, who over the past few seasons has been involving friends, creative minds and artists in his shows. This season, these included jewelry designer Giampiero Bodino, journalist Renata Molho and model-actress Simonetta Gianfelici, among others. “I’m really happy of the fact that as soon as we approached them, they immediately said yes and were happy to work with us.”
Marras also added that his involvement in various artistic disciplines helps the brand to have access to spaces such as the Teatro Lirico.
“Being a private company, it’s really impossible to afford certain venues and productions, but we are lucky because we are very connected and we always find the support of people who appreciate us and believe in what we do,” said Marras, who paid an undisclosed sum for the installations, while the Gianfranco Dioguardi Fondazione took care of what was needed to make the theater accessible to the public, such as safety requirements.
On Nov. 25, will inaugurate an artistic exhibition at the Galleria Massimo Minini in Brescia. Last year, the Triennale Museum in Milan hosted Marras’ first exhibit, titled “Antonio Marras: Nulla dies sine linea. Life, diaries and notes of a restless man.”