Antonio Marras scared me for a moment. After all these displays of wonderful color this morning, what does his secondary collection, I’m Isola Marras, start with? Black and white. Stripes. Big, broad, collegiate. In fact, the whole collection is based largely on an academic feel. Alghero is one of Europe’s most prestigious private universities and, in Marras’ opinion, a symbol of non-conformity and cultural provocation. Why this translates to an extremely heavy use of black and white stripes, I’m not sure. Eventually, the collection did move into some brilliant and vibrant colors, especially some neon pink and orange stripes. Still, that black and white look was never too terribly far away.
It has been a few seasons since I’ve been able to catch the I’m Isola Marras show, so it was nice to see that the relatively new label, formed in 2007, has developed its own aesthetic that is much different from Antonio’s more adult eponymous brand. This is a more relaxed casual and frequently sporty look. In fact, the first few looks are somewhat reminiscent of college sports sweaters in some regard. Well-toned and styled for the spring/summer season, there is a lot here that holds the potential to work very well.
What you’re going to like is the full cuts of the silhouettes. Tops are long, slacks are full cut (though short legged), and skirts and dresses are sufficiently roomy. What might be surprising are the number of button down collars that keep looks all tidy and conservative looking. Even with that look, though, the over-sized nature of the ensembles is very attractive. These are looks that will keep one cool and comfortable on those hot summer afternoons, especially with the pieces that are largely white. You’re also going to like the dog, which is a bit of a mascot for the line and appears both on an embroidered patch and graphic prints on several of the garments. The pup made a live appearance on the finale walk, which generated its own excitement. Floral patterns done primarily in blush red and green as also very lovely.
Less appealing, at least in terms of a group collection, is the constant use of stripes. I understand, it’s a theme, and on any one specific item the look works quite well. However, looking at a parade of ensemble after ensemble in a collection where Marras managed to find somewhere to put some stripes in almost every look, it started to become a tiny bit monotonous. When he shifted the colors from black and white to cream orange and white the look actually reminded me of an ancient swimsuit from the earliest part of the 20th century; you know, the kind that came down to mid calf and left everything to the imagination.
I’m also not so sure the plethora of sequins works all that well.
For the finale walk, Marras had his models all return in identical looks, cropped black and white striped sweaters with the Alghero emblem square on the chest, over black and white striped skirts with a black beret. Talk about hammering home a point. Actually, now that I think about it, what bothers me about this finale walk is that they all rather looked like a string of mimes, without the white face. I don’t like mimes, and I don’t particularly care for large assemblies of black and white stripes.
Yet, this really is a quite pleasant collection and I strongly encourage one to seek it out and enjoy what it has to offer. Antonio Marras provides some very lovely casual and sporty looks in this collection. And a puppy. What’s not to like about puppies?
Photo credit: Regis Collin Berthelier