Max Mara Brings Easy Elegance To Berlin

Within the span of the last week, fashion has made sure that its roster of show attendees would traverse the globe to see its clothes. Sandwiched between Fendi’s re-staging of its Fall/Winter ’19 show in Shanghai, Prada’s unveiling of the Spring/Summer 2020 menswear collection in the same city, plus Saint Laurent’s rocker-on-the-beach rendezvous over in Malibu, Max Mara had penciled Berlin into this world tour on occasion of Resort 2020. Fitting to the Italian brand’s uncomplicated ethos of creating really, really good wardrobe staples, the objective was simple: for its audience to step foot into the city that shaped the collection.

At the 19th century-erected and David Chipperfield-restored Neues Museum, the influence of David Bowie—whose tunes like Heroes we owe to the singer’s three-year residence in Berlin—and German-American actress-singer cum subversive style icon, Marlene Dietrich was in play. Both personalities loved a good, strong-shouldered suit jacket with loose-fit trousers, and wore their trench coats knotted and cinched at the waist, all of which found their way into the collection.

Max Mara Resort 2020: Dietrich was known for subverting gender norms in the early 20th century by frequently donning a mannish suit. A similar rule-breaking spirit is seen in the double-layered suit jacket which sports four lapels (middle).

Familiarity came by way of brand classicisms such as their iconic 101801 coat interpreted with an asymmetrical fringe trimming—the additional detailing informed by artefacts in the museum. Also, in the colour palette, where the 49-look collection is rendered in mostly neutrals like Max Mara camel, notwithstanding the measured pop of four power red ensembles. But lean in closer, and the subtle sheen of some of the fabrics and appliqué peppered on the shoulders of selected looks, will tell you that despite the brand’s bedrock of easy-to-love-and-wear garments, the individualistic attitude of those two personas held court on the moodboard.

Max Mara Resort 2020: The fringing on the wide-leg trouser (middle) is informed by the Neues Museum’s collection.
Max Mara Resort 2020: While the brand is known for a range of signature coats like the Teddy and Manuela, the 101801 (left) is its first, and arguably the most iconic. German singer Ute Lemper (middle) was part of the model lineup, having also performed at the brand’s cabaret night the day before. In a tribute to the city, the closing look (right) comprises wide-leg trousers and the Berlin coat with white flower appliqué on the shoulders—the decorative details a nod at Germany’s Meissen porcelain.

If you’re wondering why Bowie’s weird and wonderful alter ego Ziggy Stardust didn’t make a cameo, it’s probably because Max Mara’s creative director Ian Griffiths—despite being a Bowie-adoring, costume-wearing punk himself in his adolescent years—knows better. Better, in that the brand’s core audience, the working woman isn’t so much interested in playing dress up on a regular day. Rather, she wants to get dressed so that she can get up and at ’em.

Besides, like Dietrich and Bowie—image-makers so unparalleled that their influence on the style lexicon-at-large is infinitely enduring—the magic of Max Mara is really its forever garments that transcend time and generation.

See the guests in attendance:

From left: Caroline Daur, Yoyo Cao, Hikari Mori, Tamu McPherson and Nicky Hilton Rothschild, amongst others, attended Max Mara’s Berlin show. Cao wore a dress from Fall/Winter 2019 replete with pockets, and Mori opted for a diaphanous rendition of the 101801 coat.