“Ricominciare e poi?” is the question that boomed from the speakers in the colonnade of the Pinacoteca di Brera gallery, where Max Mara held its spring show on Thursday. The soaring voice of Italian artist Mina singing a famous tune from the Seventies opened the show asked: “Start over and then?”
According to Max Mara creative director Ian Griffiths, a renaissance occurs. Inspired by books on Italian artists in the 15th and 16th centuries, the designer drew parallels between that era, the country’s “renaissance in the post-war period” and current times.
“We’re in a kind of third renaissance, when the Max Mara woman is stepping up to the world to rebuild it, obviously better than it was before,” he said backstage.
Her armor for modern challenges? Elongated, relaxed silhouettes and wide sleeves that were slashed in coats — including the brand’s iconic camel ones — trenches and even striped shirts for a graphic effect. In a nod to the rich fabrics of the 15th century, embroidered inserts further enhanced the shapes and provided embellishments for knitwear.
But as the current times require functional solutions, Griffiths injected a utilitarian spin into the collection through parkas with big pockets, bomber jackets and laser-cut raincoats, while roomy, jersey pants with drawstrings offered a luxury answer to jogging suits worn out during the lockdown.
The woman Griffiths envisioned “is looking to her wardrobe [for] emotional and psychological support and rediscovering the joy and strength that choosing the right thing to wear can give you.”
In the end, it’s likely she will go for the unfussy tailoring of the Nineties, which got the loudest voice in this fashion romp across centuries. Pantsuits in pale pink, cobalt blue and in black pinstripes were convincing and seem set for a renaissance.