The Max Mara woman has come a long way since 1951. Of course, still cloaked in Camel and a woman both authentic and eccentric, she went from the belonging in the wives club of affluent men to a self made marching femme. Max Mara's FW 21 presentation celebrated the brands 70th birthday and returning to founder, Achille Maramotti's declaration in what made a woman one of true Max Mara descent.
The show gave us nothing short of drama with a dash of suspense - deep resounding drums and models who stormed rather than walked - the show brought us creative director Mr Ian Griffiths vision of an army ready for a modern war, armed and cloaked in alpaca wool, pure camels hair, kilts with a spin of British eccentricity seen through an Italian lens.
We speak with creative director Mr. Ian Griffiths about the new collection, his inspirations and what power dressing means for a woman today.
First of all, can you tell us a bit about the new FW 21 collection?
On the brand’s 70th birthday this collection celebrates the ascent of the Max Mara woman. Max Mara’s founder Achille Maramotti declared that his intention when he founded the brand was to dress ‘the wives of the local doctors or lawyers’. She has come a long way since 1951.
She got her own job, she rose and rose, and Max Mara went with her. Now she’s a doctor, lawyer, chair of the healthcare trust, VP of the United States even! This collection imagines her as a queen, but a self-made queen.
In your own words, where did you draw your inspiration for this season?
Our young queen loves authentic – sometimes eccentric and British in style. The love of all things British has been an obsession at Max Mara since the beginning. This collection brings a breath of the wild and windy heath and woodlands to the city streets. Kilts, Tattersall checks, stout walking shoes with thick socks, quilted jackets, ‘thornproof’ coats and blouses with jaunty jabots. All the British classics translated into alpaca, cashmere, camel hair and silk organza, and executed in a way that’s anything but conservative.
How would you say the fashion house has evolved and changed throughout your time since your start in '87? Max Mara marked themselves in the world of fashion with “power dressing” women, what does that look like for a woman today?
In the 1980s, when I joined, Max Mara was one of the brands that devised the dress code that came to be known as ‘power dressing’. It was a way of dressing that offered a credible image for women to forge careers for themselves. It offered success but demanded conformity. There was little room for self-expression. Over the years, as women have crashed through the glass ceiling, they rightly expect to be themselves.
They are smart, cool and confident and they want to celebrate that. They no longer wish to blend into the background; they want to stand out. You don’t have to wear a suit anymore (though you can if you want to). When a Max Mara woman walks into the room, she attracts attention – for the right reasons. She trusts the brand for a wardrobe that always helps her to show her best self. That trust is special to me.
As a designer in luxury womenswear, has your background in architecture held any influence for you over your point of view or your creative processes?
Studying architecture gave me the discipline to think objectively about the needs of the people using the space one is designing. I think about clothes in a similar way; rather than impose ideas on them, I think about what Max Mara women might want or need and build the collection around them rather like the architect builds a house around its occupants. And architecture has also given me an obsession for perfect balance of form, proportion, and finish. I think about each garment as a perfectly designed object that will work on a practical level, and please its wearer for years and years – a lifetime even. That’s especially true of coats.
If you had to pick three key items from this season's collection, what would you pick and why?
A bomber jacket in Max Mara’s trademark Teddy Bear fabric will layer up over just about anything and give a tough chic look.
A full cut cape in pure camels hair will make you feel like the heroine of a romantic nineteenth century novel whenever you wear it. Maybe you're just walking to the office but you’ll feel like you’re striding out over the moors.
A Max Mara kilt… just try one on and see how it moves when you walk.
If you could describe the art of dressing in a quote, lyric or a saying - what would it be?
Never look like you tried too hard. The art of looking good is to appear easy and natural. If you try something on and you feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable or self-conscious, then take it off immediately… it’s not for you!
View the full Max Mara FW 21 collection on maxmara.com