There’s always more to a Max Mara collection than initially meets the eye. The brand’s long-time creative director, Ian Griffiths—an ‘80s club kid from Manchester turned arbiter of chic Italian elegance—is brimming with literary, musical, theatrical, and artistic references. His broad knowledge and insatiable curiosity for the arts imbues every collection he creates and Max Mara’s spring summer ‘22 collection, presented at the Università Bocconi this morning, proved no different.
The clothes themselves were the epitome easy modern dressing (gone super luxe, of course): Loose-fitting tank tops, boxfresh denim with contrast top-stitching, sharp leather bombers, and the ubiquitous Max Mara wrap coat, all worn with boyish sandals with chunky crêpe soles. The colour palette was similarly utilitarian: tans and sands, navys and blacks, with the occasional burst of sunny yellow or tangerine orange, reminiscent of the summery deck chairs that the audience sat in.
In the show notes, Griffiths revealed he had been inspired by the easy beatnik style of the iconic French writer and playwright Françoise Sagan. Sagan wrote her first book, the literary masterpiece Bonjour Tristesse, when she was only 18 years old. She was stuck at home while her parents—punishing her for rebelling against her education and failing her baccalaureate—holidayed during the summer. The book became a meditation on Sagan’s (real name Quoirez) imaginary summer, and dabbled in philosophical questions of existentialism, ultimately turning Sagan into a celebrated household name in Paris and beyond.
It was Sagan’s style—a rebellion against bourgeois dressing— that Griffiths wished to emulate for the new season. We have, after all, had a Sagan-esque existence over the last 18 months, escaping into imaginary holidays and dwelling on looming existential questions. What better way to stomp back into reality than armed with unfussy, impeccably-made everyday pieces? Particularly when the show finished with an array of flirty feather mini-dresses and sultry two-piece sets (worn by an army of supermodels including Gigi Hadid, Joan Smalls, and Irina Shayk) that evoked one of Sagan’s most memorable—and painfully French—quotes: “A dress makes no sense unless it inspires men to want to take it off you.”