Max Mara Resort 2024 “Luminous Narratives: Max Mara’s Resplendent Resort Journey in Stockholm”. Story by RUNWAY MAGAZINE. Photo Courtesy: Max Mara.
In anticipation of the approaching summer solstice, Ian Griffiths took Max Mara to Stockholm for a captivating resort show, basking in the luminosity of the city. Even before the event unfolded in the majestic Blå hallen of City Hall, renowned as the venue for the Nobel Banquet, the designer’s introspection rivaled the brilliance of the sun-kissed Baltic waters outside.
As a brand exclusively dedicated to women’s fashion, Max Mara, founded by Achille Maramotti in 1951 to empower economically liberated women, demanded an origin story with a fiercely feminine focus. Drawing inspiration from various sources, Griffiths, who credits his Stephen Fry-like erudition to the power of Google, meticulously wove together a multi-faceted narrative. He paid homage to Vikings, proposing evidence of gender equality in their pillaging endeavors, delved into folklore, and explored the complex character of Queen Christina of Sweden, often described as a “troublesome lesbian.” Additionally, he found inspiration in the progressive female protagonists of Ibsen’s plays, brought to life by the enigmatic Italian actress Eleonora Duse, as well as the influential women of Stockholm who were both avid art collectors and contemporaries of the playwright. Finally, Griffiths highlighted Selma Lagerlöf, a trailblazing suffragist and prolific writer who became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1909.
Griffiths possesses an enduring talent for blending diverse and at times conflicting sources into cohesive collections that resonate with audiences, whether or not they are familiar with the underlying material. He pondered, “How do you express these intellectual concepts through clothing? How can a garment embody the idea of a modern urban self?” Asking these questions became the first step towards answering them. Consequently, despite the amalgamation of influences in this Scandinavian show, the clothes exuded an airiness, sophistication, and youthful energy rarely seen in a typical Max Mara collection.
One effective technique employed to streamline the message was to present the collection primarily in Ingmar Bergman’s iconic black and white aesthetic, reserving a burst of color for the show’s final segment. The folkloric elements ranged from cozy hygge-inspired Fair Isle snowflakes adorning waffled knit ponchos to pagan paper floral wreaths. Pompom trims provided lively accents across the collection, appearing on a signature cashmere coat with a peaked collar in the softest shade of camel and on a sleeveless tailored jacket embellished with folk-inspired fringed tassels.
The lineup featured numerous off-the-shoulder dresses, evoking a vaguely pre-Raphaelite and truly Duse-worthy allure. These dresses artfully juxtaposed shirred midsections with full sleeves and skirts. Embracing the Lagerlöf storyline that hinted at early 20th-century gender tensions, ivory shirting was juxtaposed with black pussy bows or untied bow ties. The collection also showcased overtly modern silhouettes, such as slim-fitted vests and pants, silk shirts, and boxers, all paired with elevated flat boots. A touch of contemporary flair emerged in a bomber jacket and a sweatshirt, both presented in black and white mohair-fringed sequin check patterns.
Delicate folk-inspired criss-cross stitching, seen on smocked silk shirt-dresses, found its translation in crystal grosgrain edging on color-blocked dresses. This served as a prelude to a floral finale, featuring seven flowers believed to reveal one’s true love when collected on Midsummer’s eve and placed under one’s pillow for dream revelations. These embroidered or jacquard blossoms adorned organza shirts, boxers, layered suits, a vest-top midi dress, and a series of captivating full dresses, each possessing an undeniable allure that defied categorization as a traditional gown. This departure from the expected is notable since a stately and imposing gown is typically a staple on the Max Mara runway. With each passing season, these traveling resort shows grant the house the confidence to share new narratives, illuminating their own legacy in a fresh light and captivating a new generation of women along the way.