Down a rabbit hole, things are supposed to get curious. And so they did at Marni, where Francesco Risso started his collection with a question: “Are we in a sort of neuro-technological-psychedelic world and we have to find roots? Or are we in a caged world and psychedelia is the thing that helps free us and be more released and open to fall into something beautiful?”

With such heady stuff to ruminate on, Risso decided to go ask Alice. “And so, is it the hand of time or the time of the hand?” he mused backstage. Ultimately, he determined that it’s both in a craft-driven collection for which he drew heavily on material remnants. Risso called his design process “almost meditative, finding beauty in the scraps,” but declined to characterize it as a sustainability effort. “I get a little bit itchy when we talk about sustainability,” he said. “We’re [working toward] changing Marni into a different place where things are done in a better, more conscious way, but actually I’m interested in the fact that we can all enjoy what is left over, the beauty of the past.”

As befit Risso’s rabbit-hole sojourn, an otherworldly aura took hold. With their faces glittered and their hair in matted-down waves, his models worked a she-warrior vibe that owed a debt to Sarah Burton, only more ethereal than earthy. They wore A-line dresses and coats in various states of patchwork. Some appeared as random collages while others were simpler, with a single contrasting fabric panel spliced into one side of a dress. Throughout, leathers and canvas imbued the collection with a utilitarian grit, but it was countered by the deft juxtaposition of flashy metallics and gentle velvets. Giant, rugged cardigans also showed the artisan’s hand, assemblages of various sweater knits, whip-stitched together. Yet the collection was not without refinement, delivered via exquisite brocades and tapestries that Risso said came from a Venetian supplier that uses looms designed by — get this — Leonardo da Vinci.

It all came together with a quirky dissonance that charmed, despite some moments of awkwardness. Or maybe, in that curious Wonderland way, aided by the awkwardness. Either way, Risso worked his theme to the end. He took his bow disguised as the White Rabbit.

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