Consuelo Castiglioni has long worked the strong side of artfulness. In the Marni collection she showed on Sunday morning, Castiglioni created geometry of color and form that challenged convention as it charmed with an offbeat confidence that stayed consummately chic.


The collection centered on surprising layering — pieces of equal, considerable strength cut with graphic precision though certainly not symmetry. While show notes indicated that the designer worked reference-free, much of the show had a vibrant clarity that, flattened to 2-D, could masquerade as Ellsworth Kelly.


Castiglioni opened with a slipdress that shed any notions typically associated with the item; in sturdy white leather secured to thick black straps and worn over a covered-up length of dark teal, it was neither ethereal nor sexy. This established the high-contrast construct, a bright blue handbag hinting at the color-wheel bravado to come. Soon, a vibrant red skirt popped out from under a black leather coat under a pink leather camisole; a yellow turtleneck peeked from under a black fishnet top under a pink tunic, and before you knew it came a joyful rush of collaged cartoon lace polka dots in primary shades with white and beige.


Amidst the powerful punches of color, there was some gradation in a perfect black wrap coat with a quadrant of red on one side as well as looks in earthy, brown-based combinations. These were tamer in tone but not cut, as throughout, Castiglioni went for volume, flaps, folds and splices that kept the interest level high.


As for pattern, for the most part, it was created by piling on and cutting away one fabric over another. When a leaf motif appeared, it came first as a print and ultimately, a lavishly embroidered black cutout tunic over a cotton T-shirt dress, an inventive dressing up of that most dressed-down of staples. Conversely, Castiglione took the formality out of elegant gowns, tacking bunches of fabric here and there, with a faux randomness that heightened the allure.

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