Sportmax celebrated their 50th birthday in London last December by welcoming an entourage of fashionable tastemakers to its anniversary event inside the Maison Assouline. They marked the occasion with the release of a comprehensive fashion tome by Assouline, a curated look at the half-century since Max Mara founder Achille Maramotti created the brand in 1969.
The book, curated by Olivier Saillard, documents Sportmax’s ability to “finding nobility in the ordinary”, according to long-time fashion director Grazia Malagoli. “It embodies the soul of the brand perfectly, as our focus has always been that of creating the perfect wardrobe for everyday life, something that isn’t ostentatious, yet still modern.”
Finding “nobility in the ordinary” is a near-perfect summation of the kind of clothing Malagoli creates for Sportmax. For Fall 2021—which debuted in Milan overnight—there was a characteristic emphasis on simplicity. The colour palette was largely monochrome—crisp head-to-toe white or delicious chocolate brown suiting—and the silhouettes were smart updates on classic shapes. Overcoats were elevated with oversized pockets, knee-length skirts were pleated and finished in sumptuous leather.
The colour palette was largely monochrome—crisp head-to-toe white or delicious chocolate brown suiting—and the silhouettes were smart updates on classic shapes.
Malagoli called the collection “an ode to all tomorrow’s parties”, and there were certainly looks you’d want to dance the night away in, once non-socially distanced nightclubs begin to re-open. Like the slinky, deconstructed slip dress, worn with grunged-up sheer opera gloves; or the white shirt dress with a delicate, intricate body chain overlay. Accessories were a highlight—in particular the shaggy oversized clutches and chunky rubber lug-soled boots.
Speaking about the brand’s 50th anniversary, Malagoli revealed the key to Sportmax’s continued relevance is its ability to grow with their audience. “Sportmax was born with the intention of dressing a new, rising generation of young girls, with new needs and desires,” she said. “Those girls have now grown into real women, with more complex and dynamic lives. Sportmax evolved, and continues to evolve, with them by creating clothes which are up-to-date and meet their specific needs.”
Most of the time, all you really need is a fantastic suit, a perfectly flattering slip, and a keep-for-life investment coat. Here’s to 50 more years of Sportmax’s excellent simplicity.
GRAZIA exclusively caught up with Malagoli post the show in Milan.
Looking back at Fall 2020, Sportmax featured lush velvets, rich colour and glittering dresses. In light of the last 12 months, how has Fall 2021 evolved?
Sportmax today represents the embodiment of contemporaneity. It is dedicated to women who dare to be themselves, or rather “the many selves” of being a contemporary woman. Sportmax wants to be creative, innovative while maintaining a continuous connection with its DNA of tailoring, craftsmanship and research.
What was your main source of inspiration for Fall 2021?
The Fall 2021 Collection takes cues from the multiple versions of one female figure: a Greek statue in its nude grandeur, a Botticellian goddess, a femme fatale from the 40s, a psychedelic spiritualist from the 60s, an activist of the 70s or a 90s techno lover. An Ode to Womanhood, based on iconographic research that explores the concept of time, reflecting on the mythology of a statuesque totem.
It is a collection that celebrates the beauty and the femininity of women. To celebrate this beauty we referred to a series of muses such as Claude Cahun, artist, writer, performer of the early twentieth century or music icons such as Grace Jones, Annie Lennox and Sinead O’Connor. All women who have undermined stereotypes, in the name of their individuality.
Who is the Sportmax woman to you? How do you envision her?
She is a strong, authentic, free, who inspires and seeks inspirations. This woman embraces her natural and spontaneous sensuality with a playful spirit and rebellious intelligence.
What do you want viewers – wherever they are in the world – to take from this latest presentation?
The innovation aimed at seeking a new expression of femininity.
You’ve spent nearly 38 years with Sportmax. What has been the great lesson in that time?
We must never stop. Each experience is an enrichment, but you should never take anything for granted. You can learn from everyone and everything, the important thing is to approach everything with an open mind.