Max Mara is quintessentially Italian, representing the typically elegant woman to whom quality and finesse are a priority. Under Max Mara’s creative director, Ian Griffiths, a gentleman representing an old-world elegance, the house codes have changed very little – to make women beautiful and stylish in clothes that continue to remain relevant.
The classic trademark for the brand has been the cashmere coat. For those that recall the early 90s, the kimono coat is a revered classic piece, appearing reimagined in almost every collection – diehard Max Mara followers, you would have to pay a hefty price to redeem this original, elegant piece from a vintage store.
When the quality is good, you can maintain longevity.
I believe that quality over quantity is key to the longevity of a brand, and that is one reason why Max Mara continues to be much-loved.”
Speaking to an Italian friend today, she recalls young girls during the 90s dressing in Max Mara, and from the look of today’s collection, I don’t doubt that ‘history has a habit of repeating itself.
This season, the Creative Director was inspired by Sophie Taeuber-Arp, a creative, whose friends included Klee, Kandinsky, Chirico. It is important to get a sense of the times that she lived in to understand the story behind the collection – Taeuber-Arp designed her most famous Kings stag radiating a joyful energy kinetic spirit and theatrical panache. The first look underscored the very premise of this exuberance and vitality; an easy outfit played out in the soft sable colour, the shirt full and bell shaped, and a black balaclava. (which continues to be a recurring theme these days, inspired by the particular trickle-up effect from streetwear). In the hands of Max Mara, this piece held a certain kind of luxury, draping fluidly down around the neck.
As the show notes mention, in Taueber-Arp’s fairytale characters the charm lies somewhere between the robotic and the animal collection and in this, we see how Griffiths explores these playful contrasts of lengths and proportions. Mini and macro, oversized and slim, were worked together to extraordinary effect. Traditional Peacoat jackets were updated with elongated proportions and a boxy cut. On the flip side, the Max Mara red tailored jacket, cut with sartorial proportions, was drawn in at the waist, underscoring the feminine trend of waist focus that we have seen thus far in Milan. And of course, as seen in most collections recently, the infusion of classic turtlenecks – skinny or chunky. The volume continued to be turned up in wide, wide trousers, cut in cavalry twill, which evoked a borrowed from the menswear sensibility, and also, placing further focus on the waist.
However, the building block of this collection was based around the nonchalant sensibility of the silhouettes, grounded in utilitarian details techno fabrics and all juxtaposed against the luxe pile of the “teddy bear materials. Which by the way, came in fabulous easy to wear sweaters and for the young at heart, the shortest of shorts – but it worked. But it was also subtle and articulate. Rich in the offer were updated versions of the Max Mara coats, some with padded arms inset for warmth. Here, the cocooning shapes of the clothes gave the nod to the importance of lightweight layering. And closer inspection revealed how everyday hardware appeared in unexpected places – in pockets and side splits, which added generosity to these silhouettes’ fluid nature.
In the hands of Griffiths, there was a definitive younger edge via new proportions and a fresher styling perspective. There is always a bit of mystery in a Max Mara collection, and today, we experienced that sprinkle of magical stardust.