Antonio Marras’ spring show was a real production. That’s meant literally, not pejoratively (though there was a teensy bit of struggle at the door), as in it was an Antonio Marras production: a fashion show within a piece of theater guided by a fleshed out, beautifully written narrative presented as show notes. There were models. There were actors. There were dancers. There was an aerialist in a swing and a marching band. It was set inside a real theater, a former opera house that ceased operation 20 years ago and is being gut renovated. Deep in the building’s gut was where the show was staged, surrounded by cinderblocks and scaffolding, which made it all the more poetic. It was personal.
Marras’ intense creative spirit is charmingly ragtag. There’s a patina to his vision of romance, his endless obsession with love stories that frame his collections. This one was breathless, beautiful. He built a window into Fellini’s world, making the great maestro a supporting player in a story about his muse, wife and love of his life, Giulietta Masina, an actress who was far from a great beauty like other Fellini muses. “But when she was in the frame, she always stole the spotlight,” Marras said backstage.
He used Fellini’s “Giulietta Degli Spiriti,” which starred Masina as an ugly duckling on a surreal path toward finding independence from her cheating husband, as base for the collection. “There is a Giulietta in every woman,” Marras said. “So it’s a wide section of all different women who are in love and are loved.”
He created a collection of character clothes, collages of archetypes — the bombshell, the mousy eccentric, the boudoir baby doll, the sophisticate — that added up to looks for a woman who is an original. He pulled from the things he loves — florals, stripes, checks, dots, embroidery, men’s wear and lingerie — all of it filtered through a Fifties/Sixties, very Italian lens.
There were striped shirtdresses worn with matching headscarves and beautiful pleated slipdresses that fell away from the body and showed black retro bras underneath. A jean jacket with silver floral embroidery was done in an hourglass shape. A gray dress in men’s wear checks fell into a fluid pleated skirt with sheer inserts. A tea-stained slipdress was done in tiers of crafty crocheted lace.
Marras’ passion for craft and appreciation for femininity could be felt in every look. His love of emotion, too. There were men in the casting as well — young, old, none a traditional model, all with a personality tick they displayed as they walked. At the end of the show, the cast paired into couples, men and women, men and men, women and women and began to kiss. The Corpo Musicale di Crescenzago serenaded from the rafters. The girl in the swing swung overhead. Love was in the air.