An artist, a showman, a tailor, a dressmaker, Antonio Marras is also a master storyteller. His fashion shows do not adhere to the standard runway format of 30-plus-minute wait, 12 minutes of clothes and a 10-minute bottleneck to exit. He gives his audience much more. It’s worth the time.
For fall, he and his wife Patrizia spun a tale of John Marras, a little known 18th-century miniaturist, recast as an ancestor of Antonio for the purposes of fashion-fan fiction. As the designing Marras imagined it, John was born in France, took a boat to New York with a pit stop in Alghero, Sardinia, where he met a devastatingly beautiful woman. The show unfolded as an ode to the many characters encountered along this journey around the world. “Imagine a long trip on a boat from Sardinia to New York,” Marras said backstage. “There are a lot of people on the boat.”
There were dashing romantics in crimson and black — an elegant black tailored coat with brocade lapels decorated in ship pins, and a black coat with red flowers that exploded into layers of scarlet tulle. There were women who dressed like men in dapper suiting plied with curvy hourglass cuts and floral insets, and men who didn’t mind a little feminine flourish — sequins and floral embroideries — on their teddy jackets. Punks mixed plaids and sporty patchworks with their embroidered tulles, and opulent artistic ladies smoldered in a deconstructed cape decked in jewels or a velvet toile print smoking jacket over a bias cut silk maxidress. These were the kind of clothes that made one long for more formal times, when getting dressed up was a daily ritual. Alas, without sacrificing any of the fantasy, Marras acquiesced a bit to today’s sweatshirt and puffer coat world. He elevated sweatshirts into street art with mixed fabric collages and varsity lettering in his initials, and finished silk and velvet puffers with the grand gesture of a dramatic scarf necks.
Marras does not suffer from any sort of creative block — his collections do not show any signs of the fatigue other designers cry about. Quite the opposite. Not counting the troupe of actors and dancers who split up the show with three vivid performances featuring various cabin classes of ocean liner passengers — the impassioned third class, the underpants-clad second class being tossed by a mid-sea storm, and the tony first class dancing like Fred and Ginger — the show clocked in at 92 looks. Complainers will say Marras went overboard; the show was too long. They had to rush to see the sporty puffers and ski sweaters at Sportmax.