CELEBRATING MAX MARA’S 70 YEARS OF POWER DRESSING THE MODERN GLOBAL WOMEN
BY RHIANNA JONE
With smart, chic separates that are synonymous with classic Italian luxury, Max Mara has become the go-to brand for elevated and empowered women. The house was founded in 1951 when founder Achille Maramotti realized his dream of transforming a man’s coat into an iconic piece for women. To this day, nothing epitomizes Max Mara more than its legendary “teddy bear” coat. Blending Italian tailoring with French haute couture and American industrial productivity, Max Mara nabbed a unique foothold in the industry at the intersection of technique and tradition. And 70 years later, the house continues to create its own rules, setting the standard of power dressing for #girlbosses everywhere with signature separates envisioned to make women feel strong and con dent.
While the brand’s staying power continues to shine, its current creative director Ian Griffiths is injecting the classic Italian aesthetic with some renewed energy and youthfulness. Griffith’s entry into the fashion world is as unconventional as his origin story. On his first trip to Italy as a young British designer in 1987, he entered and won a student competition to work at Max Mara, where he has been thoughtfully working up the ranks until appointed creative director a decade ago. As a British club kid, his ‘80s punk aesthetic would seem like a brash contrary to the house’s refined eleganza, but not when one considers Max Mara’s now-inveterate mission to dress women to live outside the home as successful, self-empowered people in the 1950s, a time when women were only to be draped in jewels. Max Mara was a very radical new idea when it began, and Griffiths is taking those progressive ideals to new heights.
Working under the brand’s former designer Anne-Marie Beretta, the same woman who designed the iconic 101801 coat, Griffiths has taken the house’s signature stylish separates and dimensionalized them with vibrant color, shapes, and textures. While the “classics” generally comprise neutral tones of camel, black, and gray, the past few seasons have expanded Griffith’s palette to lipstick red, cobalt blue, and electric green. is design choice wasn’t simply for shock factor; these chromatic infusions are head-to-toe runway looks where not only the coat but the knits, boots, and even headscarves are styled in the same shade of fabulous. It is with this breath of fresh creativity that Max Mara continually enchants an intergenerational legion of global women across several industries, from Mandy Moore and Priyanka Chopra to Zendaya and Nancy Pelosi.
Beyond just dressing all the powerful women of our time, Max Mara also uses its platform to spotlight the brand’s ambitions, accreditations, and diversity. In 2005, the fashion house created the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, a biennial prize awarded to an emerging female artist in London. Offered in collaboration with London’s Whitechapel Gallery, the prize includes a six-month residency in Italy, during which the artist creates a body of work to exhibit at galleries in both London and Italy. Additionally, the Max Mara Face of the Future award was established in 2006 to recognize an emerging actress contributing both to the cinematic landscape and her community at large. Truly celebrating the expansion of the female experience, Max Mara has had all the barrier-breaking models sashay down its runway, from body-positive icon Ashley Graham to hijabi superstar Halima Aden.
Whereas many brands are only more recently stepping up to the social awareness plate, it’s clear that Max Mara’s story has always paved a path for gender equality, amplifying women as leaders and local legends. Fashion, like pop culture, is in constant evolution, but in the tale of Max Mara, both elegance and empowerment are timeless.