“What’s not to love about a woman who’s intelligent and smart?” said Max Mara’s creative director Ian Griffiths at the brand’s Milan showroom. In front of him, the label’s seasonal moodboard, where images of Fran Lebowitz were pinned next to those of Patti Smith.
Two strong women, radical in their ideas and consistent in their androgynous style, inspired Griffiths in drawing a parallel between the notion of classics in literature and in fashion. “Classic books are filled with forward-thinking ideas and are revolutionary, but classics in fashion are always perceived as conservative.”
The designer wanted to overturn this misconception by shedding a new light on wardrobe staples. He played with textures and the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine elements, delivering a collection that was pragmatic, approachable and hinged on commercially smart separates.
True to both his muses’ aesthetics and the Max Mara heritage, tailoring played a big role in the range, with navy pinstripe fabrics employed to craft mannish vests and pants as well as hybrid solutions, such as double-breasted jackets with contrasting sleeves and the back in denim. An oversize, sleeveless version of the brand’s 101801 coat in knitted fabric stood out for its contemporary appeal, while a blazer was reworked in jersey for a lighter and more comfortable result, which winked to a younger audience, too.
To offset the sartorial pieces, Griffiths introduced boy-cut, washed jeans and denim shorts to style with cowboy boots, as well as fluid satin dresses, blouses and boxer shorts for a more feminine touch.
But the brand’s craftsmanship was best highlighted in what the designer defined as a sidebar to the collection. To pay tribute to Smith and her equestrian wish of riding across the South American pampas, Griffiths included gaucho-chic pieces, encompassing pinstripe gaucho pants styled with crisp shirts, luxe cashmere coats and jackets with knitted sleeves as well as a beautiful calfskin rendition of the iconic 101801 style. Classic yes, but never banal.