Italian marque Max Mara always has a special place in our hearts — and wardrobes. The brand was, after all, the first to champion the working woman as an aspirational figure, living a life that is at once practical, powerful, and fantastic. Think US politician Nancy Pelosi, whose flame-red Max Mara coat went viral in 2018.
This ethos was in full force at the brand’s 2020 runway show, where creative director Ian Griffiths showed off his latest vision of the Max Mara woman. This season, she is a desk-bound corporate figure dreaming of a life spent adventuring on the high seas, captaining her own ship and carving out her fortunes on the waves.
Make no mistake — this isn’t a girl who expects to spend her maritime voyage sipping tea in a stateroom while everyone else around her does the hard work. This is the woman who is walking the decks, climbing the crow’s nest, charting the course for her next adventure — and then going on those adventures. Equipped with a wardrobe that prepares her for any occasion, of course.
Who, What, Wear?
Outerwear is essential for any great adventure, and this season, Max Mara’s exceptional stable of coats truly shines. The Max Mara heroine has the puffy nylon-and-fleece doudoune to protect against inclement weather, teddy coats and capes for smoother seas, and the slouchy, luxuriant robe-de-chambre for post-storm comfort. Officer-class greatcoats — complete with exaggerated shoulders — are perfect to wear when accepting accolades for saving the day.
Underneath the coats, we see a mix of practicality and romance. Smart trousers, relaxed in cut for comfort and practicality aboard a ship, contrast against more evening-appropriate renditions in velvet. Warm striped knits — typically sailor-esque — are put next to sheer shirting and velvet tunics with bejewelled cutouts. Rope belts add a sense of insouciant practicality, as if our heroine needed something to hold up pants that were just a touch too big, and a tightly-braided sailing rope was just the closest thing to hand.
Of course, no fantasy is complete without a little romance. In this story, it can be found in swishy asymmetric skirts, voluminous sleeves, and plenty of ruffles, found on both inner and outerwear alike. We’re particularly fond of the full sleeve of ruffles on Max Mara’s classic camel hair coat.
Women were famously considered unlucky to have on board ships in the past, and have rarely ever been the subjects of seafaring stories, so we think it fitting that the modern-day woman should find her place on an epic sea adventure today, even if it is a fashion fantasy.
Speaking of modern-day women, it would be remiss of us to not to congratulate the latest recipient of the annual Women In Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award — British actress Gemma Chan. Chan catapulted into the public eye for her role as Astrid in the movie Crazy Rich Asians in 2018, but has since also featured prominently in films such as Captain Marvel and Mary Queen of Scots — the latter laudably noted for its colour-blind casting of Chan as Bess of Hardwick.
Chan will next appear in Let Them All Talk, a Steven Soderbergh comedy that will have Chan acting alongside the likes of Meryl Streep, as well as Eternals, the next Marvel Cinematic Universe film due out in November of this year.
The Women In Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award is always given to an actress experiencing a turning point in her career through her work in the film and television industries, or through her contributions to the community at large, and serves to recognise the actress’ achievements and embodiment of style and grace. Past recipients include Katie Holmes, Emily Blunt, and Zoë Saldana. That Gemma Chan has been given this award certainly bodes well for her career.
Plus, we’re heartened that a woman of Asian descent has been given this award, and look forward to seeing more Asian faces in Hollywood.
Max Mara is available at #01-10/#02-11 Mandarin Gallery. Tel: 6238 9138. Visit the website for more information.