Antonio Marras Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear Collection

“A disaster without precedent” was how Sardinia’s governor Christian Solinas described the fires that ravaged parts of that beautiful island late this July. Just one of many extraordinary summer conflagrations across Europe and beyond this year, the Sardinian blaze razed 20,000 football fields’ worth of wilderness; one especially notable recorded loss was a long-venerated olive tree believed to have lived for a millennium.

This calamity deeply affected Antonio Marras and his family, whose life is on Sardinia. “There has been nothing even nearly like it since 1954,” he said this week, shortly after returning to his showroom in Milan. So for this collection, Marras and his cast of Sardinia-cast models travelled into the charred aftermath to shoot this collection’s video in an area named Santu Lussurgiu, where only 100 of 750 hectares escaped the flames.

To observe Marras’s cast pick gingerly over the parched earth and duck beneath blackened branches was a pretty sad watch. The more-than-usual blooming rose prints that adorn many of the looks seemed an almost cruel reminder of what was lost, but Marras said these were amplified on purpose pre-presentation in order to anticipate a hoped for regeneration—and indeed if you look carefully there were, even at the time of shooting this video, the smallest of green shoots battling to reemerge.

In this context, it seems a bit fatuous to delve into collection details: It was the characteristic Marras pot-purri, heaped artful layerings fashioned form a mix of vintage and local, featuring details including a washed out botanical print ironically inspired by the burn-marks of an iron. The closing mountaintop commune of all-whitish looks starred pieces that cut cotton, lacy embroideries into celebrants’ robes, all gently stained with tea.

Clashing current affairs against fashion can often seem to trivialize the former and render the latter absurd, but here the proximity of the designer’s creativity to the blasted hills of his homeland worked as a reminder of a news story that, like so many, quickly fades from the agenda. The only consolation I could offer Marras was that in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia—where I grew up and where there were similarly apocalyptic scenes nearly two years ago—the waratahs are now blooming again. If only we allow it, nature fights back.

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