Later this year, in November, Germany will mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The 155 kilometer barrier that divided the German city both physically and ideologically is still stimulating creatives to this day and not just those responsable for graffiti scribbling the murals painted on what remains of the concrete wall. As editors and VIP clients from all over the world descended on the German capital for the unveiling of the Max Mara Resort 2020 collection at the Neues Museum, the creative force that can result from a united front and tearing down of barriers felt all the more relevant.
Max Mara’s British creative director—for a whopping three decades—Ian Griffiths unveiled his Resort collection from the top of the Museum’s imposing staircase. “You have to look to the past in order to move forward,” he mused before the show. The sweeping lines of the colossal hall offered an impressive and stoic background for the clothes whose alabaster white in particular echoed the statuesque figures in the surrounding halls. The lines affirmed with confidence the tailored silhouettes of a brand whose signature is timelessness. Suit and coat lapels and straight, padded shoulders echoed the androgynous style of the great artist Marlene Dietrich, wonderfully highlighted by artist Ute Lemper. The night prior, the Grammy award-nominated German performer thrilled Max Mara’s guests, including American actor Angela Bassett. Inside a derelict cabaret room, she gave a tribute performance to the late star in a smashing white suit and later, Jessica Rabbit crystal-embellished gown, both unapologetically showcasing the fluid duality of the Max Mara style.
In the details of this Max Mara Resort 2020 collection, Griffiths revealed an artist’s flair. He was inspired by Meissen, the German porcelain factory hailed as the oldest in Europe (1710) and never faltering in its guardianship of design excellence. To wit: capes and jackets bared snowball blossoms embroidered on shoulders like feminine armor and tumbling down capes as if its wearer had literally rolled through a garden of flowers—sure to be a hit in the Middle East region.
Beyond German architectural and artistic influences, Griffiths also looked to neo-primitive styles for this collection. Metal objects from the Bronze Age spawned ideas for hammered jewelry made in collaboration with Reema Pachachi. The metal also flashed through the clothes, albeit more discreetly, having been woven through the cashmere and wool threads. Adding to the tribal essence and juxtaposing with the plissé and draped fabrics and luxurious cashmeres were fringed edges and fil coupé.
Founded in Reggio Emilia in 1951 by Achille Maramotti, Max Mara remains a family-owned business, today helmed by chairman Luigi Maramotti. Boasting over 2600 stores worldwide, Max Mara is one of the elusive fashion brands that has built an empire off the sales of actual clothes, not accessories and hollow hype. The Max Mara Group turnover in 2017 hit 1.5 billion Euros. Notably, the brand was the first to put a hijabi model on its runway, Vogue Arabia cover star Halima Aden, though absent from the resort show, made history when she walked Max Mara Fall 2017 show in Milan; the move opened the floodgates for diversity in fashion. “We don’t need to put ‘women empowerment’ on a t-shirt,” remarks MariaGiulia Prezioso Maramotti, regional retail manager and granddaughter of the Max Mara founder. “Empowering women is is what my family has been doing for seventy years.”