Max Mara’s Fall-Winter 23 Collection takes us on a journey back in time, to the world of Émilie du Châtelet, a free-spirited French philosopher of the 18th century. The inspiration behind the collection, Châtelet represents a unique brand of modern femininity, one that “spurns the restrictive styles of the day, lifts the curtain on the future and reveals a new wardrobe for now.”
Modelled after Châtelet’s pursuit for independence, the iconic Italian fashion house‘s latest collection was designed with the contemporary woman in mind. Just as Châtelet rebuked the voluminous dresses and boned corsets of the 18th century (often in favour of men’s clothing so as to escape the limits of her gender), the Fall Winter 23 collection spans minimalistic turtlenecks, chunky boots, sporty pockets, and no-fuss ponytails secured in place with velvet ribbons.
Elegantly combining nods to the past with furiously futuristic elements (think opera gloves paired with cocktail dresses), it seems creative director Ian Griffiths has succeeded in bringing his vision of female empowerment to life.
While in Milan, marie claire Australia’s Fashion Director Naomi Smith caught up with Griffiths to find out his inspiration behind the collection.
marie claire Australia: How did the idea for this collection come about?
Ian Griffiths: The grandeur of the woman herself, and her dignity, I was trying to express that. Of a woman of great class, who is determined and ambitious, and will succeed, and rises above every insult that might be levelled at her. I wanted to show a woman with a great natural dignity and grandeur.
MC: Were you thinking about your customer a lot when you designed this collection?
IG: Of course, we are always thinking about the women that, for me, are the ‘Max Mara women’. I’ve been with this company for over 35 years now, so that means I’ve formed a pretty good idea of who ‘she’ is. When we do a runway show, I’m aware that we’re putting together a kind of vision or a dream, but one that I hope resonates. I think so much of what happens in fashion is interesting and arresting, but doesn’t necessarily invite you to see yourself. What I want to show on the runway is an image that makes you think, “I could be her…”
MC: Max Mara has always been beautiful and wearable, but it’s lovely to see that extra edge that you added to the collection. Was that intentional?
IG: I’ve been trying to push the envelope a little bit for the past 15 years or so. I always want to do something where the respect for the women we dress is evident but, at the same time, to show an independence of spirit—almost a rebellious spirit sometimes. That’s why we chose, for the shoes, these quite punky boots and shoes with buckles. That was a way of giving the look this quite funky kind of feel. I’m always thinking about the woman, but I’m always thinking about trying to find an expression for her independence and rebelliousness.
MC: And what do you feel are the biggest challenges right now in fashion?
IG: The biggest challenge for fashion is…there’s a lot of anti-fashion sentiment. We do have to address issues of sustainability, and we are working towards it, but let’s not forget the power and the joy of fashion.
What I’ve been thinking about recently is that feeling that you get when you buy and then wear a new (piece of clothing). I do a lot of teaching and I’ve found students (can be) very uncertain about the world they are entering. I say to them, “Just think about that feeling. This morning (…) you put on that skirt, those shoes that made you feel good.” Let’s not forget the joy of fashion.