Marni marks 20 years in fashion by making Central rooftop a flower market

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 March, 2015, 6:12am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 March, 2015, 6:12am

A flower market popped up at the top of Central Pier Four last week as Marni celebrated its 20th anniversary with the help of Joyce Boutique.

A replication of last September's Milan flower market, the floral display, which will visit a series of global destinations including Tokyo and Venice, featured a light installation by Milanese artist Massimo Bartolini and was contained by a series of railings. The display was accompanied by ambient sound recordings of the previous market in Milan.

The Marni Roof Market coincided with Art Basel in Hong Kong to highlight the links between the Italian brand and the arts. "We have always had many collaborations with artists," says Marni creative director Consuelo Castiglioni. "Some have been with important artists, some less important and even some unknown. I like their energy and this is why I work with them."

"Massimo [Bartolini] does work connected to the place it's going to be," says Consuelo's daughter and director of special projects Carolina Castiglioni. "The sound recording is in a way a link to our first market show."

Making sure that the Italian spirit lived in the initiative was key, the show featured fresh flowers from Milan and leather sandals hand-painted by Italian Art Brut artists.

A lovely exercise in branding aside, there was focus on the carnival-esque array of products on offer. These included vase holders, chocolate bars, picnic cloths, shopping bags, and animal sculptures, all in bright colours and prints mined from the Marni archive, illustrating the brand's eclectic aesthetic.

Earnings from the event will be donated to Vimala, which provides seriously disabled Tibetan children living in India with medical care. Marni's work with charity initiatives has seen it previously collaborating with other organisations such as Lavazza and Coca-Cola, and Yoox.com

As the luxury industry becomes more competitive, initiatives that highlight the relationship between fashion and art have become ever more commonplace. Whether it's a collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Prada's retrospective museum entitled Pradasphere, or Gucci's reinvention of the floral print with Canadian artist Kris Knight, fashion is finding new ideas from an industry that does not suffer from fashion's debilitating commercial pressures.

Yet how these brands distinguish themselves from one another is their approach to art. Gucci under the reign of recently departed ex-creative director Frida Giannini found itself to be both commercial and predictable, with an emphasis on selling products. In contrast, a more intellectual brand such as Prada explores the varied cultural fascinations of Miuccia Prada through a serious museum setting.

What the Marni Roof Market conveys is the light-hearted intention of capturing Marni's joie de vivre. Marni's creative direction is driven primarily by instinct rather than the idea of a history-laden retrospective. Instead, a conceptual light installation sits seamlessly with aisles of deliciously colourful products that visitors are more than welcome to amble through.

"We wanted to do something close to who we are, what we like, so this was a kind of strategy. We are not so straight. The flowers, the colours, the smell, the nature, this is everything that we like," Consuelo Castiglioni says.