Max Mara’s creative director Ian Griffiths got an honorary doctorate this month in London. On Thursday in Milan, Dr Griffiths cut his latest collection with a scalpel.
His inspiration was military but with a gentle pacifist twist – leading to uniforms and workwear, sculpted to chic perfection. The wellspring was the UK’s Women’s Land Army of WW2, and the idea that women are at their strongest when united.
“Women in organizations have an ability to organize themselves into connected teams. To be strong, independent and collaborative,” enthused Griffiths.
Standing before a board that included Lee Miller and Vita Sackville West, who wrote the history the Women’s Land Army, and published poetry by them.
Correspondingly, there was a good deal less cashmere in this Max Mara collection and a lot more cotton. Nearly all of it – drill, gabardine and poplin – made into looks that were later garment dyed. Giving each item a rather unique feel, and different coloration. The looks featured deep patch pockets on shirts and skirts, shoulder flaps and mannish high collars.
“It’s like when we were students and threw clothes into washing machines to see what would come out,” enthused Ian, who included images of his own garden in the mood board.
Staged inside the Rotonda della Besana, a medieval hospital, the cast wove around the towering space. Backed up by what sounded like a military jazz band and turned out to be a brilliant drum-driven track Bandleader Breakdown by VideoHelper.
Most of the cast carrying bags that suggested camera or binocular cases but made to carry, not precious military secrets, but lipsticks and iPhones.
The designer also playing on the Max Mara classic Ludmilla buttonless sheath coats.
Few brands in Italy seem as well-honed as Max Mara, whose designer Griffiths is the acknowledged master of quiet luxury. All the way to their new elegant ambassador – Yara Shahidi, the break-out star of ABC’s hit series Black-ish and Michelle Obama pal.
She was also the star guest at a Wednesday dinner Max Mara held with Vogue inside La Società del Giardino, Milan’s most exclusive gentleman’s club.
“I wanted this show to be more about turning swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks,” smiled Griffiths, who last week was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art inside the Albert Hall.
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