MILAN — Francesco Risso is gearing up to unveil his fall 2023 collection for Marni in Tokyo, the creative director of the Italian brand said in an exclusive interview.
This confirms a WWD report from October.
The show will be held on Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. local time.
“A year ago, I decided to stage a series of traveling shows with our team and a crew of musicians to bring energy to different cities and give back to our friends and communities around the world,” said Risso. “But these are not repeat shows,” he underscored.
Risso emphasized that the goal is “to be present in the epicenters of our communities and not in some remote or isolated place.” The show is expected to accommodate around 2,500 guests.
To be sure, Japan is historically one of Marni’s most important markets. In a joint interview with Risso, chief executive officer Barbara Calò said that Marni in 2022 is expected to report a 30 percent increase in sales in Japan compared with 2021 and over the past few days, data show an overachievement compared to forecasts.
Japan accounts for 23 percent of total sales, said the executive.
Marni in 2022 is seeing a 31 percent increase in global revenues compared with 2021, but Calò declined to provide a figure for worldwide sales ahead of the official disclosure at the end of the fiscal year. This is expected in the first quarter of 2023.
Parent company OTB does not break out revenues by brands, but market sources peg Marni sales in 2021 to total more than 220 million euros.
Calò attributed the brand’s global growth to a strong performance in all categories, noting that the gains are achieved “in a healthy way.”
“I like this balance, there is no fear that we are relying on a single bag,” said Risso, smiling.
A Marni branch in Japan opened in 2000 and there are currently 28 points of sale in the country: two freestanding stores, 23 shops-in-shop and three outlets.
A second flagship in Tokyo will open within the next two years, following a first unit in Omotesando that dates back to 2019, continued Calò. The plan is to roll out Risso’s new store concept, first unveiled in Milan on Via Montenapoleone during the Salone del Mobile in June, emphasizing the locations as creative hubs and the brand’s links to art.
Marni is available in department stores ranging from Isetan to Takashimaya, positioned on the luxury floors, underscored Calò, noting that the spaces in these stores are being expanded to give more visibility to all Marni categories.
Business is surely a consideration, but Risso also emphasized the strong influence the country and its culture have on his design sensibility.
“I finally managed to return to Japan a month ago and once again it was a very pleasant and enlightening trip,” said Risso, who before the pandemic used to travel to the country two or three time times a year, “also for research and to meet people. I have strong ties to Japan.” He said he is “in love with 1960s Tokyo architecture.”
Risso staged his first show for Marni in New York in September, during the city’s fashion week, and he said that the goal with the show in Tokyo will be “to celebrate that location, as we did in New York. We don’t want to be disassociated with the city.”
New York was the first leg of a series of traveling shows. Risso said that he has planned four, but that he still does not know the cities where the next two shows will be staged. The idea is to return to show in Milan in 2024, where the brand is based, and when the brand will celebrate its 30th anniversary.
The Marni show in New York was held under the Joralemon Tunnel in Brooklyn, which had a high-wattage front row, including Madonna, Kendall Jenner, Doja Cat and James Harden, among others, and was set to music by Dev Hynes and The String Orchestra of Brooklyn.
Hynes will perform in Tokyo, too, but Risso will also include collaborators, artists and musicians from Japan “by osmosis, in a strong interaction and exchange,” he said. Although he is keeping the name of the location under wraps at the moment, he said it has “a deep connection with the creativity of the collection.” As he did in New York, Risso will ask friends of the house to also walk the runway with models.
Traveling allows him to “learn about the culture of different countries, create strong relationships and understand what people are attracted to. I’ve always been fascinated by what I call a gray area,” he said. By way of example, Risso spoke of his “surprising, beautiful experience” walking in total darkness in the Tamagawa Daishi temple. “This is telling about the Japanese culture.”
Risso joined Marni in 2016, unveiling his first collection for the brand’s fall 2017 season, and succeeding the label’s artistic director Consuelo Castiglioni. In 2015, Rosso’s OTB group took full control of Marni, three years after acquiring a 61 percent stake in the Italian fashion company.
Risso, whose past experiences include the Prada Group and stints at Anna Molinari, Alessandro Dell’Acqua and Malo, has brought clashing prints, vibrant colors, deconstructed silhouettes, generous volumes and asymmetric cuts to Marni. The designer, who is also drawn to Surrealism, often injects naif or grungy vibes into the looks, which have a young and rebellious attitude.
Risso said he is embracing “quality that that must last in time, and discipline as well as the skills and patience needed to create special objects. I think we’ve seen enough of cynicism and Brutalism. I am not interested in creating products that brutalize the human expression. My mission is to dress people and I am not working with blinkers, I think about what surrounds us, but I also aim to create a world that is comfortable and that will give pleasure.”