A twenty minute walk on foot from the Marni show this morning, along which I got to pat a cute dog, see a more quiet and residential side to Milan and then arrive at Marni’s Flower Market, was enough to perk my entire Milan Fashion Week up. When you’re funnelled around shows and appointments for hours on end, stuck in traffic, it’s a pretty distorted view of Mllan. Therefore Marni’s Flower Market on the one day of full one sunshine we got during the week was respite indeed.
Marni gently kickstarted celebrations for its 20th anniversary, not with a private exclusive party in the murky depths of night time but an open-to-the-public flower market held in the beautiful Rotonda della Besana with proceeds going to children’s charity Vimala, aiding Tibetan children in India. The product, created exclusively for the market for all your dream garden needs, had a similarly global humanitarian approach. Brightly coloured with zebra’s faces came from Zambia and animal wire sculptures of giraffes and flamingoes were made by women in Colombia.
Virgin green-fingered me is just beginning to get stuck into the process of nurturing an outdoor space. If I was living in Milan, I would have gone buck wild at the market, buying up enticing packets of seeds, bulbs, garden chairs, PVC bags with primary hued gardening tools. The biggest sellers of the day were definitely the printed PVC tote bags, in various sizes, displayed as vase and bouquet holders. Through the totes and throughout the market as seen on the bouquet wrapping paper, and at the craft stations set up for children, where you could make yourself a printed kite or, some beaded and floral jewellery, Marni’s aesthetic could be seen everywhere. It really asserted a lifestyle element that you can see glimpses off through Marni’s clothes and the stores and in their participations at events like Salone Mobile but here was fleshed out completely, down to the stall selling various kinds of carrot cake or the uniforms the market stall staff were wearing (layered boat neck top, a perfectly tied neckchief, cropped trousers, a navy apron and hand painted canvas shoes). It was a real generous act of giving, not just in the charity aspect but in the aesthetics and the fact that you felt like you could stay there for a while and really enjoy it as opposed to stopping by five minutes just to make some mandatory appearance.
Seen in tandem with the S/S 15 collection that Marni sent out before the market opened up and you could see the correlation between the two. What started off in neutral jutes and linens built up to a floral crescendo where prints of daffodils, lilies and daisies – the recognisable heroes of a garden – are blown up, abstracted and given a strong textural treatment in different ways be it through metallic jacquards, a crepe-embroidered fluffy technique or printed leather. Marni has always excelled at flower power but here it was also the asymmetric shapes, built up by petal-like curves and added swathes of pleating that gave the collection some substance, weighted down by the Teva-esque sandals and circular pipe heels. And the swinging drawstring bags and fringed totes? Big enough for a shop and a gander at Marni’s Flower Market for sure. The show to market experience was a treat. Just wish my garden could have benefited from Marni’s act of generosity.