Myth has it that the name Max Mara was a blend of Achille Maramotti’s surname who established the business in 1951 and a local count named Max, who was seldom sober but always elegant. Ian Griffiths, Max Mara’s creative director, is arguably not the physical reincarnation of Count Max, but he undoubtedly is following in the footsteps of his esteemed influence, not so much for champagne but rather for fashion and a riveted determination to not underestimate it even in the face of global crises. Griffith’s successful contemporary translation of Count Max’s principles and instructions for the future neutralised inelegant faux-pas and lethargic looks — which often take the form of sweatpants, ugly trainers and amorphous T-shirts — and replaced it with comfortable stylish alternatives. In a nutshell, Max Mara offered the post-lockdown women a delightful collection of both wearable and graceful garments.
The SS21 Max Mara show was, unlike many other, held physically in the courtyard of the Pinacoteca di Brera, an ancient Milan gallery and art school that holds works by Raphael, Bellini, Caravaggio, Titian, and more. If some publications point out the perhaps a little over the top « fifty shades of beige » nature of the show, everything you would expect and more from the brand was there: perfectly draped coats and suits, cut from plush wools; fine wide-cut jackets, elastic trousers,… The coats more specifically were designed for cool spring days. The long slashed sleeves left the hands free in the wind. The body was, on the other hand, firmly belted to the coat. This playful celebration of fashion as protective and/or vulnerable device for weather was distilled throughout the many looks composing this collection.
Maroquinerie was often carried by wrist strings and we discovered not the front of the bag as we usually do, but its base adorned with Renaissance-nodding decorative mosaics. These motifs also appeared on pieces of hybrid sportswear, the front of elegant shirts and arm work. The slashed sleeves were recurrent in the collection, making it one of the highlights of this season’s Max Mara show. There were also extended cuffs, buttoned sleeved you could take off if the sun shined a little more and fabulous pointed flats which echoed on the old Italian stone while Italian pop star Mina sang “Ricominciare e poi Che senso ha?” (We start again, and then what’s the point?) over the sound system.
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