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  • Paul Kaplan

Max Mara Cruise: Sensual Feminism in Lisbon

This season, the Max Mara Cruise collection emphasizes the power of inspiration and evokes Natália Correia, famous Portuguese free-thinker, great lady of art and star of social cafés, resurrected for an evening in Lisbon. , tuesday.

Among the models, Carminho, the greatest contemporary interpreter of fado, this traditional vocal art imbued with nostalgia, sadness and above all passion, also inspired this impressive collection by Max Mara. Clothes tailored for romantic evenings, feminist and cerebral aperitifs, or even for running errands on the weekends - both sexy and functional. Surprise, we saw a man pacing the catwalk: it was the first male model to parade for Max Mara.

Max Mara

The show took place in the garden of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, one of the largest private art collections in the world, built up by an Armenian immigrant who, a century ago, was the richest man in the world. The next time you hear a politician preaching against immigration, tell him to visit this museum, to discover the exceptional gifts that an immigrant can leave to his adopted country.

It was here at the Gulbenkian Foundation that Max Mara's creative director, Ian Griffiths, first came across a portrait of Natália Correia, painted by Nikias Skapinakis. Capturing the poetess surrounded by friends, probably intellectuals gathered in her club Bar Botequim, where Henry Miller, Graham Greene or Eugene Ionesco met.

"Natalia was famous for her feminism — erotic liberalism. In other words, she was both attractive and smart, and knew how to translate it into clothes," the designer explained in a pre-show interview.

Result: a series of superb pencil skirts worn with low-cut tops, bustier dresses, and magnificent taffeta sheath dresses. The collection comes in a wonderful range of soft metallic tones — copper, aubergine or mustard — and a multitude of pleated fabrics. Again, Ian Griffiths was inspired by photos of Amália Rodrigues, great friend of Correia, the greatest fado singer of the time, wearing a pleated dress.

Almost a dozen silhouettes radiated these pleated fabrics, made in Italy in a technical taffeta containing a little polyester to retain their shape. Dresses to wear for a gala or, the next day, to go to the market with espadrilles and a basket. Or the new crochet tote from Max Mara, which would prove to be very useful.

Ian Griffiths stays contemporary by inventing new ways to pleat his fabrics, and leaving certain seams in plain sight. Not to mention her keen sense of proportion — cropped tops and high skirts only reveal a few inches of the bust.

Perhaps Correia's most famous work is his Antologia de Poesia Portuguesa Erótica e Satírica, a licentious collection of eccentric ideas and dreams, condemned by the fascist dictator of the time, António Salazar.

"Finally, her philosophy and her courage are transformed into a tube dress in my collection. It's ironic," laughs the British designer.

"We don't think much of parties, but rather of lunches and breakfasts," concedes Ian Griffiths, who in recent years has organized several parades inside Bocconi, the first Italian business school.

Max Mara

The other central theme was that of a refined party - the designer is convinced that "people want to leave their homes". Witness the tuxedos in vibrant colors, from Aegean blue to deep purple.

When it comes to coats, the staple of the Max Mara wardrobe, the palette was black, brown, white and camel. The most beautiful of them: a magnificent camel wool coat treated with a finish similar to fur, obtained by brushing the material with wavy brushes.

A superb version of this coat was also worn by Martim Morais, the first man to parade in a Max Mara show, wearing a very classic "Manuela" coat in size 50. Just big enough to be worn by a man, they'

Models strolled confidently through the foundation's garden, whose mid-century brutalism is surprisingly close to the style of the Max Mara Art Foundation in Reggio Emilia, established by the family of founder Achille Maramotti, who currently fund the restoration of several Gulbenkian galleries.

Carminho made two passages in the procession, having given, the day before, a beautiful concert during a dinner organized in the remarkable baroque palace.

This is the whole point of the Cruise collections: drawing on local culture to reimagine a collection and revitalize a brand.

Here, this local inspiration led to a series of embroidered T-shirts, bearing the "Lencos de namorados do minho", these love letters that women wrote to the men they coveted.

This is also the meaning of this Max Mara collection, a true love letter to Lisbon, signed by a brand and its artistic director.


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