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“The Max Mara woman is a self-made queen,” the Max Mara autumn/winter 21 show notes explained. Against the backdrop of Milan’s Triennale Design Museum, the catwalk became a coronation for this self-made queen; a 70th anniversary celebration of the Max Mara woman and a procession of professional power dressing.
From the moment a driven young entrepreneur named Achille Maramotti founded the Reggio Emilia-based house in 1951 with “the wives of solicitors and doctors” in mind, the Max Mara woman has pushed on, always ascending. “Now they’re doctors, they’re lawyers, they’re vice president of the United States,” creative director Ian Griffiths told Vogue in the moments after the show. In taking a working woman, rather than a lady of leisure, as its early aspirational icon, Max Mara has continually helped redefine the rules of power dressing ever since by creating a working wardrobe that encourages women to feel strong, independent and powerful. As creative director, Griffiths has continued the house's soft power movement, quietly and consistently revisiting and reimagining classics.
In 1987, Griffiths entered a student competition to work at Max Mara, after visiting Italy for the first time. He won and soon began his career as a junior designer under the French stylist Anne-Marie Beretta, who helped define the look of working women in the 80s with her iconic double-breasted 101801 camel coat. She remains one of his greatest influences, with Griffiths continually drawn to her sartorial armour that helped a generation break into the corridors of power. He designs for the same woman today, through the filter of now. For Max Mara’s 70th anniversary, Griffiths turned to the archive for inspiration before reimagining elements for today. While a 1950s campaign was prominent in his designer’s eye, outerwear in particular, marries Griffiths’s recent move to the Suffolk countryside with Maramotti Legacy of utilitarian elegance. Elsewhere, the everyday was elevated. “The mission to design real clothes for real women may not sound very inspiring,”Griffiths recently told Cultured, “but Maramotti never said classics had to be conservative.”
Forever authentic and sometimes eccentric, it’s been a recurring theme at Max Mara from the start and it’s the backbone of this anniversary collection. New must-haves include the oversized bomber jackets and "thornproof” jackets in incredibly soft alpaca wool with utility pockets. To be worn with kilts, thick socks and sturdy shoes. And to complete the urban-county mix, there are impeccably tailored suits in tattersall checks, chic graphic tartans, oversize aran knits, velvet elbow patches and jaunty jabots in organza. The perfect working wardrobe for self-made queens. We bow down. Keen to continue the celebratory spirit of the collection, LN-CC turned to visual artist Jack Appleyard to help reimagine the Teddy Bears’ picnic as a fantastical anniversary feast in the English countryside. Forever authentic, occasionally eccentric, happy birthday Max Mara!