Max Mara laid out rows of cheerful deck chairs in sun-faded stripes — all socially distanced — for its spring show at Bocconi University. As usual, students pressed their noses and smartphones against the windows, and rushed in afterward to pose for selfies with influencers like Xenia Adonts and Caroline Daur.
A still red-haired Gigi Hadid closed the show in a bandeau top, supersized black jeans jacket and a short skirt, summing up a collection that lived somewhere — and sometimes awkwardly — between workwear, streetwear and beachwear.
Backstage, creative director Ian Griffith was talking up “Bonjour Tristesse,” the 1954 novel by Françoise Sagan that was an overnight sensation, describing a 17-year-old’s dramatic summer vacation in the French Riviera. On his mood board were stills from the 1958 film adaptation, the gamine Jean Seberg and David Niven both in denim shirts knotted at the waist.
But it was Sagan’s signature style — which Griffiths dubbed “beatnik chic” — that mostly informed the collection and inspired Griffiths to luxe up humble garments like the fisherman’s smock, the laborer’s jacket and carpenter pants.
“She refused to conform to the norms of dress or behavior,” he said. “And what I’ve noticed in the past few years is how if you issue an invite to an event and you specify a dress code, anyone who’s got any cool about them at all completely ignores the dress code.”
So Griffiths also stirred in rebellious elements: mesh basketball jerseys that stopped under the bust or stretched to floor; masculine sandals with thick creeper soles, and rugged straps that swooped around the hips.
The vaguely ’60s silhouettes and utility details gave the collection a youthful edge that was blunted somewhat by the sturdy fabrics and often drab colors. But as usual, the tailoring was impeccable, best expressed in pert leather coats and dark denim blazers and shirt jackets. Griffiths described the latter items as looking “box fresh.”