Max Mara creative director Ian Griffiths named his resort 2022 collection “Local Color” — a simple enough moniker with several undertones.
Staged on the island of Ischia, Italy, at the Hotel Mezzatorre overlooking the Gulf of Naples, models walked below the striking 16th-century watchtower, surrounded by bountiful geraniums in hues ranging from pink to fuchsia and red. These were the only pops of color chosen by Griffiths to contrast with a muted palette, ranging from white to camel and black, conceived to present his new, youthful silhouette – a skirt that gathers just below the waist with a peplum-like construction.
Griffiths admitted the ‘50s and ‘60s inspiration of the collection was not new in itself but was to him and he underscored that he wanted to develop it “avoiding clichés.” He did this by working on new proportions and shapes for Max Mara, with “almost minimal, couture-like designs and linear purity.” His goal was to modernize those constructions and he did so by, for instance, showing leather shorts worn under a blouse with voluminous, bell-shaped, exuberant sleeves, and an oh-so-comfortable new espadrille-sandal. He also rejuvenated the brand’s image by showing leggings under short skirts and hooded tops. Each model carried large leather or rafia travel bags, pointing to the main inspiration of the collection.
“This was born from a dream, I was dreaming of traveling,” said Griffiths, who traveled to Ischia for the first time last February, after months of lockdown. “I was thinking about writers who wrote about traveling when we could not travel and I turned to Truman Capote — I really admire him, he is one of the greatest.” For this reason, Capote’s 1950 book “Local Color,” with his notes and diary on places he visited, including Ischia, was a source of inspiration. “I swore it would be the first place I would visit.” Capote’s book evokes the golden age of travel and the symbols of the narrative are his Swans, elegant globetrotters, although Griffiths stressed he is designing for the modern Swans of today.
Mindful of Max Mara’s signature bestsellers, the designer reworked the 101801 coat in a technical yet luxurious jersey, “with a Neoprene quality,” which allows the piece to be lighter and easily bundled up in a suitcase without wrinkling, “bouncing back,” he explained. He also revisited the brand’s Teddy Coat into a bomber with knitted trims. Given the success of the former, it’s safe to bank on this new version also being a hit.
While the looks were mostly color blocked, there was a floral print, reproducing the island’s geraniums, which Griffiths believes are “unpretentious, beautiful and wholesome,” and a pattern “inspired by maps before Google existed,” said the designer with a laugh, recalling the folded paper maps of yore. A dress with a dropped waist showed the map of a fictional Max Mara city, a web of Rue Max Mara or Place Max Mara.
Light cashmere tunics with capped sleeves and slits on the sides were also perfectly in sync with the location and the spirit of the collection.
As in a perfect postcard, the show transported guests to a dreamy vacation spot where elegance means comfort and chicness at the same time.