An Italian in Paris: what does Francesco Risso have to do with Karl Lagerfeld?

Wabout Francesco? Two hours before the Marni show, Parisian University Street is bustling with noise and bustle. Models in white coats stand in the foyer and wait for announcements. Technicians are giving instructions through headphones, musicians in white hospital gowns are tuning instruments on the ground floor, and the designer must be somewhere too. But where? The view wanders through the rooms. Didn’t Francesco Risso have dark curls that stuck out in all directions? Or are they blonde now, like he wore them during the pandemic? Or does the hair, as has happened before, stick out of the head like thorns? The PR woman finally points to a bald man in suede trousers and a white T-shirt, who is now running up the marble stairs: “There he is!” Francesco Risso, this time without hair.

In a way, this is what defines the Italian language. Constant changes. We are not talking about those that are inevitable in the fashion world – changing seasons, changing trends. The creative director of the Milanese brand Marni likes to do things a little differently than others. During the Corona period, he sent clothes from his collection to 48 friends and acquaintances around the world, who had to film themselves wearing them. The result could be seen online. After Corona, he decided to present his works in other cities, and not in Milan, as usual. In interviews, he says that he is something of a reveler in this global world. First stop was New York, then Tokyo. This afternoon he presents his latest collection in Paris. Fashion for next spring. A look that also takes you back in time.

Show at Little Versailles

Anyone who enters the large gate on University Street in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district is initially surprised. What stands behind it is not one of the usual five to seven-story buildings that characterize the Parisian cityscape. Rather, it is a magnificent palace, as one would expect at the gates of the capital. “Little Versailles,” visitors whisper later. Baroque-style rooms with gilded walls and mirrors, artistic parquet flooring, a huge ballroom overlooking a spacious park – all this in the center of Paris.

On the way to the show: Models in the city palace, formerly owned by Karl Lagerfeld.

When Risso arrived in Paris with his team six months ago, the agency offered him this position. A city palace that had just changed hands and stood empty until new owners moved in. The perfect backdrop for a spectacular parade.

“Lagerfeld was a hero for me”

When Risso talks about that day, his words go wild. Then he did not immediately realize that this Hôtel particulier, as the city palace is called in French, was a place that he already knew. Risso was 15 years old when he visited a friend who lived with her parents in Paris in the mid-1990s. Coincidentally, next door, in the same magnificent building, lived a certain Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld! Sensation for Risso. A quiet boy, born on a boat in 1982 while his hippie parents were sailing the Mediterranean for years, and later raised in a large family in Genoa and began cutting and collecting the clothes of his six siblings to express himself – this shy boy is a boy I suddenly found myself so close to the great designer.

Marni designer Francesco Risso with rapper Saint Jhn after the show at Lagerfeld's former palace

“To me, he was a hero, comparable to a rock star,” Risso says. Then he and his girlfriend sat by the window all day long and looked out into the yard, watching when Lagerfeld left the house, when he returned, what he was wearing, who he was talking to. “We literally spied on him,” he says today with a laugh, “it was intrusive.”

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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