MIAMI — Max Mara has fallen for Miami’s magic. The brand’s new architecture-focused boutique in the Miami Design District and sponsorship of last month’s National YoungArts Foundation’s Backyard Ball are yet another testament to the city’s rise as a crossroads for culture.
It also marks a new chapter for Max Mara. Just as it prefers understated, classic clothing, the family-owned company hasn’t been a showoff concerning its vast art collection initiated by founder Achille Maramotti. The fashion house has chosen 2015 as the year to come out of its shell Stateside, including sponsoring the opening gala of the new Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan.
“We’re present in many U.S. cities, but selected Miami because of Art Basel, its private art collections like the Rubells and Art Deco architecture, and it’s international,” said Luigi Maramotti, chairman of Max Mara Fashion, of the locale’s synergy with the company’s art and design-based DNA versus collecting art as a trend. “Even though Miami is young, it will be a successful market for us.”
Before he sat at a table with Jeff Koons, who received the 2015 Arison Award as part of National YoungArts Week when master teachers and alumni of the nonprofit mentor high school finalists, Maramotti spent the day touring his new neighborhood’s private collections steps from the store. His niece Maria Giulia Maramotti, North American retail director and global ambassador, was readying the bilevel, 3,325-square-foot space linked by a striking spiral staircase in cross-scratched metal and beachy oak for its opening later in the month. Though smaller in size than stores in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, Miami’s flagship status packs in most of the firm’s lines, from Elegante to Sportmax.
“This location is getting all our special fashion pieces,” she said, comparing its assortment to that of New York’s Madison Avenue, with the exception of tailored suits. “There will be tropical colors like a bright blue and gray double cashmere coat and prints like resort’s kangaroo pencil skirt.”
Sans historic building codes, Duccio Grassi architects had free reign. Natural light filters through the tall facade’s white geometric screen into an upstairs salon with Murano glass tables, a B&B velvet sofa and Golran rug in watery blues. Metallic inserts in wood walls, an exclusive design detail, gleam from a muted palette and materials, including the handbag and jewelry section’s adjustable wall panels that are upholstered in taupe microfiber sourced from Kvadrat.
“Miami needs a little flash,” she said.
The front half of the first floor is dedicated to exhibitions of works by emerging artists and Max Mara fashions such as the Heritage Project, the inaugural installation and first North American stop for the story of the company’s iconic coats dating from the 1950s to last year. The multimedia, interactive display features camel wool coats and an outfit by Karl Lagerfeld, as well as sketches by Anne Marie Beretta and photographs by Richard Avedon.
“Unlike our other Florida stores in Naples and Palm Beach, Miami is our place to experiment and reach an arty, young professional,” said Maria Giulia Maramotti, who’s collaborating on an in-store art show and college scholarship for a student from the nearby Design and Architecture Senior High with YoungArts. “We’re used to mentoring young creative people, like our cutting and sewing internships in Italy, so this project was a no-brainer.”
They’re also already in talks about staging a fashion show for resort 2016 at YoungArts’ campus in the former Bacardi headquarters in November. The strategic push differs greatly from when Max Mara operated under the radar during its 15-year run at Bal Harbour Shops. “There’s a real buzz here now. Our clients are excited we’re back,” she said.