«Lisbon is a city that immediately fascinated me, it is a place that makes you dream and continues to attract young artists». Ian Griffiths, Creative Director of Max Mara, proudly showed collection references backstage at the fashion house's Resort 2023 show. A mix of art, culture and tradition took shape among the garden paths of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, where a painting by artist Nikitas Skapinakis depicting poet Natália Correia is preserved. She is the spokesperson for a path running through stories of female figures from the past intertwined with the present in the pursuit of a new sensuality. From the notes of traditional music, fado, sung by Carminho, also starring on the catwalk, to citations to local craftsmanship, the catwalk aimed to be a tribute to the city that for the first time hosted a fashion show by an international brand.
«It is a collection dedicated to Portuguese poetry in all its expressions, which we find in many forms,» Griffiths added. «For me fado represents Portugal so we contacted Carminho, spiritual heir of the great Amália Rodrigues, and then I was inspired by the style of Natália Correia, a poet almost scandalous in her verses (she was the author of the Antologia de Poesia Portuguesa Erótica e Satírica, ed.), a socialite, a person who was not afraid of anyone». Women who, in Ian Griffiths' thinking, want to be interpreters of a vein of authentic sensuality, ready to take shape on the catwalk which began with reassuring tones, the Maison’s signature camel, white and black, to then flow into a triumph of vitamin colors, recalling a rich tropical flora.
Among capes inspired by traditional dresses and worn with short jumpsuits, petite tops that left the belly button uncovered, pencil skirts, linear or decorated with traditional designs and poetic verses. The silhouette was soft and voluptuous, recalling the rouched skirts of local tradition. Seductive sheath dresses alternated with iconic coats and a sleeveless vest version of the Teddy Bear coat. Fishnet stockings veiling legs left uncovered for daywear, while a section closer to eveningwear, or formalwear, approached among long dresses in crunchy taffeta, bustier dresses exploding in soleil plissé or with flounces at the hem like those stage costumes worn by Amalia Rodrigues, offered in a crescendo sequence of colors ranging from vitamin orange, azulejos blue, yellow ochre, purple and deep green. Surprisingly, a man walked the runway, wearing one of the T-shirts embroidered with hearts, doves and bows by local artists, inspired by the lenços de namorado do Minho, the lovers' handkerchiefs on which Portuguese women used to convey their passionate messages.
Not, or perhaps not yet, a real incursion into menswear but a demonstration that Max Mara also has a male customer base for certain garments, especially its famous coats. In their journey, Griffiths and Max Mara tied a knot with Portuguese culture, which will also translate into concrete actions in the territory. As a tribute to the city, the fashion house will support the restoration of the foundation's galleries dedicated to French art and it will choose the location and common thread of the next Resort, collaborating with students from the local polytechnic university. The student winning the contest will work for the brand.
Judgment. «The first time I visited Lisbon was for an inspection related to the show. I was immediately conquered by it. I knew Spain very well, but not Portugal. I realized that the difference between these two countries lies in their vision of the concept of passion. Spain is a blazing fire, while Portugal is a flame hidden under the embers». Ian Griffiths told us that he designed the collection with definite local references in mind, emerging more overtly at times but often more veiled. The Max Mara world is still the actual protagonist on the catwalk, in the sign of a clean and wearable ready-to-wear, prepared to conquer the customers of the homonymous Group’s flagship brand, which closed 2021 with a turnover exceeding 1.5 billion euros, 50% of which generated by exports.