Max Mara has long been the luxury brand of choice for the corporate classes but today its heroine escaped the office in search of adventure.
“Her dreams cast her as the captain of her own ship,” was the message on the collection notes, presented before the brand’s showcase in Milan this morning. A modernly nautical aesthetic showcased on a roster of models including Kaia Gerber and Bella Hadid promptly confirmed this idea.
The Max Mara woman, a long-time enthusiast of well-cut camel coats and the monotony of the 9 ’til 5, certainly appears to be all at sea next season, or at least daydreaming about it, with her usual tailoring replaced with slouchy, flannel pinstriped trousers and sleeves swathed with ruffles.
Rope belts and tassel toggles presented alongside hooded anoraks and ivory blazers cinched in at the waist, which combined in a show that was one part Jack Sparrow and another mini-breaking city-type. The collection juxtaposed the romanticism of the sea with the demand for fashion with a practical point of view.
Designer Ian Griffiths, who splits his time between north London and Max Mara’s base in Milan, was careful not to go overboard or indeed to alienate the long-standing Max Mara customer, with nods to the ocean and the possibility associated with adventures at sea serving as decoration on a collection that was at its best utilitarian. Loaded with practical dressing solutions for modern women, the collection combined dark-wash denim with sculptural suiting for a pleasing result.
The addition of flat leather brogues — finished with pirate tassels — and oversized pocket bags, which looked perfect for those looking to get away from it all this season, confirmed the idea that these were clothes that were designed to be more than just aesthetically pleasing.
Griffiths’s Max Mara is synonymous with the teddy bear coat adored by everyone from French fashion editor Carine Roitfeld to the high street retailers that have replicated it in their collections. Today he offered up a new interpretation of the iconic style with a floor-length striped incarnation among the most noteworthy pieces on his runway. Max Mara is the understated giant of Italian fashion, with an annual turnover of £1.1 billion.
This morning stood as a reminder of precisely why, with a dedication to the professional women, it dresses apparent throughout. While its Milanese counterparts are looking to social media gimmicks or big-budget spectacles in order to keep their customers interested, Max Mara’s long-standing strategy is to service them with high-quality clothes.
Evidently, Griffiths’s dedication is to quietly empower the Max Mara woman — be that in the boardroom or for her new life on the ocean waves.