The “basic bitch”—the hypothetical mindless consumer of mass cultural distractions like pumpkin spice lattes, Lululemon, and old Celine bags—has haunted fashion for nearly a decade now, turning designers’ carefully considered, most artistic output into items to be catalogued and over-consumed.
For the most part, menswear has remained blissfully free of the basic bitch. While the “basic bro” certainly exists, the kind of clothes shown at men’s fashion weeks tend to speak to a larger audience of fanatics, transmitting its runway strangeness far less often to the average male consumer. Or, at least, that was the case—until Marni designer Francesco Risso had his way with his Fall 2021 collection on Friday.
Risso, who’s been at Marni since 2016, has injected a handy, colorful absurdity into the brand, turning a quirky art gallerist favorite into more of an art scenester favorite. (The brand is premised on the idea that there is a significant difference between those two things.) That sensibility might be why Risso can take concepts, like the most banal form of consumer, and use them as inspiration for a collection that feels artful, or at least clever. In part it was the models’ poses—hands on cocked hips, one leg jutting forward like a wasp-waisted ’50s couture model. But it was also the clothing used like props: obscenely giant bags in the crooks of arms, like a parody of a Birkin; the oversized, mid-aughts Olsen-scale outerwear; and the ridiculous riffs on overly familiar fashion cliches, like a purposefully too-tasteful black corduroy suit, which was styled over an ombre tux shirt with wilted, day-old-cabbage ruffles. It was as if Risso had exploded the idea of basicness—or maybe took its tiny rubber form and tossed it into a bathtub to blow up to cartoonish proportions, like those expandable water toys.