Max Mara cruise: 'Local Color', refined sophistication
There is a great debate in fashion today. Will women want elegance and sophistication when the pandemic eventually ends or will their biggest needs just be ease and comfort? Ian Griffiths, creative director of Max Mara, clearly believes they will chose the path of refinement and grace.
His Cruise 2022 collection for Max Mara, staged Tuesday evening in the splendor of Italy’s most talked about hotel, the Mezzatorre on the beautiful verdant island of Ischia, was a paean to the Swans: Truman Capote’s legendary gang of beautiful and rich lady friends – Slim Keith, Lee Radziwill, Gloria Guinness, Babe Paley, C. Z. Guest and Marella Agnelli. The beauties who inspired Breakfast at Tiffany’s and whose unique patrician sense of style, of being “a living work of art,” as Capote put it, has left an enduring legacy in fashion.
Searching for inspiration for his first post-lockdown of 2021, Griffiths caught up with some of his favorite novels when he discovered that Capote had actually spent a spring on Ischia, included in a brilliantly written description in his global travels. Four months on Ischia, where he lived in a pensione just west of Mezzatorre in the fishing village of Forio, described in his third book, Local Color. Hence, the title of the collection.
So, the collection and show followed a subtle balancing act between the honest simplicity of island life to the uber sophistication of the Swans, who would twice yearly descend on Paris for the haute-couture season: “lunching in the Ritz; dining in Maxim’s,” said Griffiths, expanding on his inspiration.
The result was a rather couture-take on cruise, and all the better for it. Too often cruise collections can be reduced down to skimpy cocktail wear and swimwear for trophy girlfriends. Not with Griffiths at Max Mara, where the silhouettes were hyper-refined and flattering – designed for women with busy professional lives.
Presenting new versions of Max Mara’s classic 101801 double-breasted coat in techno-jersey.
“So they bounce back and don’t crease when you wrap the up for a journey. That’s what good design is,” stressed Griffiths.
He made cocktails with high funnel-necks; cut dresses with a high waistline and puckered below; and gathered blazers at the back.
His most sensational look was high-neck, beige confederate-cut coat finished like a cape. Like most looks, it was anchored by espadrilles and sporting sandals underlining the sense of practical ease.
Like Truman’s Swans, the opulence was in the simplicity, high living with simple food, like a simple spaghetti, or spaghettata, thrown together among friends, with a sauce made of fresh local tomatoes.
Ischia’s hills and cliffs are covered with geraniums, as are the window boxes of among hotel favorite of the Swans, the Plaza Athenée in Paris. So Griffiths one key print was of micro-geraniums seen in the sort of long tunics seen on Marella Agnelli.
Otherwise there was none of the surface decoration or embroidery one associates with many couture collections.
“This collection is about clothes that work with you, and not show off you are going on a trip,” stressed the designer.
In another link to 1950s refinement, Max Mara asked Ginevra Elkann, grand-daughter of Marella, to shoot the show video, and drone cameras floated in the sunset above the stone runway, verdant cove and wine dark Mediterranean sea throughout the show.
A film school graduate, Ginevra will release her Max Mara video on Thursday 1 July at 3 p.m. on MaxMara.com.
Due to Covid, barely 90 guests attended the show, which began with the cast arriving by yacht onto the dock of the Mezzatorre, sunset setting on the Med. And not just any sailing boat, the same model as the elegant 43-foot sloop used in Anthony Minghella’s 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley; the dark tale of self-indulgent living and murder among wealthy ex-pat American WASPs, which was shot in Ischia.
Backed up by a memorably atmospheric soundtrack by New York DJ, Johnny Dynell, including Una Notte a Napoli, with lyrics by Alba Clemente, who attended the show and dinner with husband, master neo-expressionist painter Francesco Clemente.
Dynell spinning at a post-dinner dance around the pool as today’s micro equivalent of the Swans, influencers, bopped around – the likes of Caroline Daur, Xenia Adonts, Alexandra Pereira, Leonie Hanne and Camila Coelho. A moment with a striking sense of release and joie de vivre as people enjoyed the simple joy of a few fun dances.
Though where the Swans were the beautiful wives of wealthy bankers and industrialists, today’s Instagram Swans actually hired their own husbands to be their social media photographers.
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