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Inspired by a winter sea that has captivated poets and artists from William Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf and Stevie Nicks, the Max Mara autumn/winter 20 show took us on an Arctic open-sea adventure in Milan back in February. “In civilisations without boats, dreams dry up,” the show notes explained, quoting the French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, and literary critic Michel Foucault. “It’s romanticism on Max Mara woman’s own terms,” creative director Ian Griffiths explained backstage post-show. With more than three decades at Max Mara, few understand the Italian house’s woman better than the Derbyshire-raised, Manchester-educated ex-punk rocker.
In 1987, Griffiths entered a student competition to work at Max Mara, after visiting Italy for the first time. He won and soon began his career as a junior designer under the French stylist Anne-Marie Beretta, who helped define the look of working women in the 80s with her iconic double-breasted 101801 camel coat. She remains one of his greatest influences, with Griffiths continually drawn to her sartorial armour that helped a generation break into the corridors of power. He designs for the same woman today, through the filter of now.
The Reggio Emilia-based house has always been radical. When it was founded in 1951, Achille Maramotti took a working woman, rather than a lady of leisure, as its aspirational icon and it has continually helped redefine the rules of “power dressing” ever since by creating a working wardrobe that encourages women to feel strong, independent and powerful. As creative director, Griffiths has continued Max Mara’s soft power movement, quietly and consistently revisiting and reimagining classics, including the famously cozy Teddy Bear coat - an inspiration for the TMarin Teddy tote bag which has been exclusively produced in white for 10.10.
With the world in varying states of land-locked lockdown, the dream of taking a romantic journey across shapeshifting seascapes created by Griffiths for autumn/winter 20 is all the more alluring. To celebrate the launch of the collection, Aljadid commissioned postdisciplinary designer Lili Éva Batha to create VR seascapes. These computer generated marine worlds which take inspiration from ancient siren folklore and underwater fine art photographer Christy Lee Rogers, delight in the same classic/modern duality that runs throughout the collection.
VR Dreamscapes Lili Éva Batha (@lilievabartha)