Max Mara PRE-FALL 2022
Always impeccably clad in a bespoke Savile Row pinstripe suit, Max Mara’s long-serving creative director Ian Griffiths is a gentleman of the old-world kind. When congratulated on his immaculate look, he graciously demurred. “I feel a bit constricted though.” There’s an Italian saying that goes “one must suffer to be beautiful,” but it surely doesn’t apply to Max Mara’s intelligent design, which is all about making women both beautiful and comfortable—no suffering necessary.
“Intelligent” was a recurring term in Griffiths’s conversation, emphasizing a common quality pertaining to what he called the collection’s three “witnesses.” “They’re women of substance,” he said. How else to describe Fran Lebowitz, Patti Smith, and the young Kaia Gerber if not as being all gifted with abundant intellect, talent, and wit? They’re also defined by an individual sense of style, which relates to the classy essentiality of traditional masculine tropes. “Classic doesn’t have to be conservative,” said Griffiths. “In fact, it can be a way of dressing for a woman with a radical agenda.”
Max Mara has always been about a democratic idea of fashion, as accessible and egalitarian as it is stylish, providing women with a wardrobe for the everyday based on supple tailoring of fine execution. This approach hasn’t wavered throughout the 30-plus years of Griffiths’s tenure at the label; it still seems utterly pertinent today.
This season, the designer’s work around the tailored jacket, the building block not only of the collection but surely of his witnesses’ style repertoire, was particularly subtle and articulate. The offer was rich in updated versions of the navy blue traditional masculine blazer, which Griffiths is giving a younger edge via new proportions and a fresher styling perspective. In a sort of relaxed take on Jermyn Street’s sartorial savoir faire, the jacket was proposed in many iterations: slightly boxy and fluid in malleable double-faced jersey; precisely cut with the sleeves and the back made in dark denim; and juxtaposed with a sleeveless, double breasted, and straight-cut gilet. Boxer shorts, bermudas, and boy-cut trousers in bleached denim added to the lively spirit of the collection whose additional details included cuffed Oxford shirts, Texan boots worn with rolled-hem jeans, and smart trench coats.
The offer was rounded out by an attractive variety of Max Mara’s signature greatcoats in shades of denim blue and camel. Most noteworthy was a short cashmere car coat whose back and sleeves were actually cable knitted as in a jumper. Griffiths explained with a certain pride that it has taken several years to perfect the industrial technique needed to put together such different textures. He also highlighted the fact that the label’s coats are appreciated by men, with influencers apparently requesting samples of the classic versions. “It’s an indication which is coming full circle, as Max Mara originally borrowed the camel coat from the traditional masculine wardrobe,” he mused. “I think that in the end what’s important is what clothes represent and mean, and what they stand for. We stand for intelligence and knowledge, regardless of gender.”