UNIQLO: The Winter 2022 collection is MARNI’s second collaboration with UNIQLO. What was your thinking for this season? Did your thoughts on UNIQLO’s concept of LifeWear change at all from last season?
Francesco Risso: Rather than changing completely, my thinking has evolved. The first Spring/Summer release was well-received globally and, still now, I see lots of people wearing it on the street. In that sense, we developed a whole wardrobe for summer, tapping into the notion of LifeWear at large. This time around, instead, we decided to address the collaboration more directionally, focusing on fewer categories and offering a MARNI interpretation of UNIQLO’s HEATTECH.
UNIQLO: This is technically a womenswear collection, but it’s also clear that it’s genderless; from the oversized silhouettes, to the designs themselves. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind this genderless approach?
Francesco Risso: I wanted to create a collection that celebrates the physicality of the human body, with no specific ties to the notion of gender. In that sense, this collection is intended for everybody. Each piece is intrinsically linked to others and can be styled freely by everyone, day after day, according to their personal style.
UNIQLO: The collection features bold, graphic patterns and standout colour blocking that feels very MARNI. Where did the idea for these patterns come from, and are they hand drawn?
Francesco Risso: I wanted to slightly subvert the traditional interpretation of 60s optical prints, adding a textural, primal element. In our work at MARNI, the use of the hand is core and we translated the same approach in this collection, freehand drawing patterns to redefine and underscore physicality, sparking a dynamic dialogue with the body.
UNIQLO: How do you see MARNI’s style—as well as your own personal style—coming through in this special winter collection?
Francesco Risso: To almost everyone MARNI stands for colours and prints. It always has. I have put a lot of my own style into MARNI, but it is also a process moving in the opposite direction. Every day I draw inspiration from what I see at MARNI, from the team I work with, from the meaning of MARNI itself. This collection regroups our love for patterns intended as an artistic expression of our collective imagination, and stripes, which have become the epitome of our style.
UNIQLO: The collection features psychedelic patterns reminiscent of the 60s. Why did you choose the 60s for the collection?
Francesco Risso: Through this collection, I wanted to investigate the aesthetic perception of the 60s, flirting with clichés. Patterns continue to inform everyone’s idea of MARNI– as they sit at the core of our vocabulary and identify our graphic language. This time, though, we transposed those psychedelic patterns onto garments that unapologetically define the body, creating an enigmatic interplay of prints and anatomy to define the silhouette.
UNIQLO: What is the idea behind the designs, silhouettes and colour palette for the Winter 22 collection? Also, this collection puts a spotlight on UNIQLO’s technology fabric, HEATTECH, which is typically worn as innerwear. What was the idea behind giving HEATTECH a leading role?
Francesco Risso: Focusing on HEATTECH led us to slightly shift the approach and bring the body to the centre of our creative practice. We celebrated it and worked around it with our designs, liberating and elevating the body, all at once.
UNIQLO: What are your recommendations for styling the HEATTECH in this collection?
Francesco Risso: I like the idea that innerwear – something that is typically worn “underneath” – can become a bold statement and give an outfit a completely different turn. In this specific case, my styling recommendation is to layer and mismatch, revealing and concealing in complete freedom.
UNIQLO: After the Spring/Summer 2022 collection, we received a lot of wishes from customers and the media to see MARNI-inspired knitwear, if we were ever to launch a winter collection. Can you tell us about the knitwear in this collection, and the production of different knits like popcorn, mixed yarn, and cashmere?
Francesco Risso: Knitwear really sets the tone here, in a very powerful synthesis of colour, texture, and shape. While colours are mostly solid, the construction emphasises texture, highlighting their three-dimensionality. Like the patterns, the knitwear has also been conceived to interact with the body, outlining its silhouette.
UNIQLO: You’ve created a furoshiki scarf for the collection, a traditional Japanese item. It’s definitely a unique collaboration piece between MARNI and UNIQLO. How do you see the customers using it? Are there any other traditional Japanese items you’d like to create with UNIQLO?
Francesco Risso: We proposed them as headscarves, slightly mysterious accessories. I do not want to force traditions that are rooted in culture, but I invite people to simply have fun and interpret them in the most personal way. We do not have to narrow our imagination, and I think that the collection is a declaration of our appreciation for creativity and playfulness, too.
UNIQLO: You’ve also created a variety of winter accessories, such as mittens and balaclavas. What were the inspirations for these?
Francesco Risso: I saw these as an extension of the body, and a very natural continuation of the knitwear range. I had also featured balaclavas in the MARNI mainline Autumn/Winter 2022 collection, and I wanted to revisit them again for this special collaboration.
UNIQLO: What are your dream plans for the holidays?
Francesco Risso: Well, I think that I would love to plan a trip – because nothing nurtures me like the discoveries that occur while travelling. But, on the other hand, I would like to enjoy my home and the people around me, making time to practise cello, or drawing and reading. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have the time to do both.
UNIQLO: What are your three favourite pieces from the collection?
Francesco Risso: I would say the cocoon silhouette down coat, the striped knitted trousers, and the baggy jeans.