The Business of Fashion

The Marni Riddle

Angelo Flaccavento asks if the drafting of Francesco Risso from Prada makes sense at a brand as unique as Marni.

MILAN, Italy — Consuelo Castiglioni’s decision to step down "for personal reasons" from the creative helm of the brand that she co-founded left many Marni supporters puzzled. On October 21, the day of the announcement, Arthur Arbesser, one of Milan's next generation of designers, went so far as to reference a “dark and confusing day on planet fashion.”

There is, surely, more to the story. Gianni Castiglioni — Consuelo Castiglioni’s husband and the company’s co-founder and president — is also leaving the brand, along with the couple’s two children, Carolina Castiglioni and Giovanni Castiglioni, which seems a sign that the relationship between the Castiglioni family and Renzo Rosso’s Only The Brave (OTB), which owns the label, was not exactly rosy.
But even more surprising was the choice of Marni's new creative director: Francesco Risso, a 30-something with a Prada-approved pedigree. For one thing, the future of Marni is being entrusted to a man. There’s no doubt this is a strange choice for a brand whose DNA is so intimately and unmistakably linked to a female gaze and the liberating message that came from a woman telling other women to dress for themselves — as oddly as they like — yet never, ever to please men.