Max Mara’s Athenian elegance
There is an Athenian mood rippling through fashion, and culture in general, a longing for the original ideas of classical democracy, of openness to others and refinement in dress.
That informed an excellent collection for Max Mara by its gentlemanly creative director Ian Griffiths. Based on a simple concept of looking at antique classicism through the eyes of its women and not the more famous heroic males. So instead of Ulysses and Pericles we saw things from the point of view of their noted spouses Penelope and Aspasia, whose house was known as an intellectual center in ancient Athens.
There is a long history of creative Englishmen residing in Italy: Shelley, Bryon and Sir Harold Acton to name but a few. Many of them in fashion – Bailey and Barrett to name just two. Griffiths joined Max Mara in 1987 after finishing his master’s at the Royal College of Art, and moved to the brand’s home town of Reggio Emilia. So, Italy has seeped into most of his pores, albeit not his accent.
For Spring/Summer 2019, Griffiths proposes warrior women though of the most refined sort – their heads topped with leather bandanas. He cut with great skill, enveloping his cast of the world’s leading catwalkers – from Gigi to Kaia – in swirling ensembles of cashmere; one-shoulder jumpsuits; touched-up silk trench coats; noble high-collar pea coats and polka-dot power coats and trouser suits. A great fashion statement from a cultured designer.
Then, talk about a study in contrasts. One day later, the same audience crossed Milan’s Giardini Publici to witness Sportmax. One could not fault the effort, though quite frankly this grand version of Pianura Athleisure made in the flatlands of northern Italian did not quite work. Too fancy, too formal and too much, and lacking in street credibility.
Still, after a stellar show by Griffiths, for the house’s signature collection this was a very good week for Max Mara in Milano.
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