At Marni's memorable Spring 2022 show in Milan, the audience was in many ways part of the collection. Everyone who attended was dressed in advance in upcycled (and numbered) wares from the Italian label, lending the proceedings a community-oriented, personalized flair.
Among those 400 guests was Paul Klein, the lead singer and guitarist of the indie pop-punk band LANY. He recalls meeting Marni creative director Francesco Risso the day before the show for his fitting. It was his first time attending Milan Fashion Week. "I’ve only been to a few fashion shows in my life, but Marni’s in Milan was one of the best I’ve ever seen by far," he tells PAPER.
Risso, for his part, remembers first becoming aware of Klein through Instagram. "At first I thought he was a model that was dressed in Marni on some shoot, but the imagery I got to see seemed a little too honest and authentic to be some fashion editorial of sorts," he says. "I started to follow him on social and only then realized that he made music, with his band. Then another picture of him wearing Marni came up again and we connected."
The relationship took off and Marni would end up dressing Klein for his band's tour with pieces straight from the runway. "I’m still learning to carry myself with more confidence so wearing bright, bold pieces that demand attention is inspiring." he says of the label's pieces, which he calls "daring" and brave."
Indeed, Marni's spring runway was one of the few shows to actually embrace racial diversity, body inclusivity and gender fluidity this season. (The daisy prints, clingy T-shirt dresses, sweeping caftans, and flowy shawl cardigans further brought this point home.)
"My mom and her sister have always been so cool about this stuff," he says. "I remember going thru my Aunt Ann’s closet at a super early age and trying things on. They never made me feel weird about it. In fact, they kind of encouraged it. I’ve never felt the need to defend or protect my masculinity. It’s just not part of my DNA. Wearing a skirt or french braiding my hair or painting my nails… these things don’t make me more of a man or less than one. it’s just clothes. it’s just hair. it’s just paint."
For Risso, an avid music lover, the friendship goes beyond a typical brand-musician pairing. "Fashion is no longer a presumptuous monologue, it’s a shared space for people to express points of view," he says. To me Marni is that, a playground for creative, unconventional conversations ... I am happy to see that music is now drawn to Marni, too. Through partnerships with musicians and artists that went on to become friends – just like Paul – we’re somehow building a soundscape for the brand, a sonic dimension that did not necessarily existed before. It’s multi-faceted, as Marni is, but it’s honest. Because it’s some sort of gift coming from our community of talented friends."
Photography: Trevor Roberts