Max Mara sells over 200,000 coats a 12 months. “Just lately we’ve seen coat mania,” artistic director Ian Griffiths mirrored on a tour of the home’s Coats! exhibition in Seoul, which launched this week. “I believe the dimensions of it underlines what Max Mara is about. Luxurious is usually taken to imply one thing that prices some huge cash and isn’t essentially helpful, however Max Mara has a use. It’s garments to get on on the earth in.” The third instalment within the exhibition collection, which beforehand visited Berlin and Moscow, the retrospective showcases Max Mara’s outerwear evolution over the previous sixty years. Erected in Zaha Hadid’s spaceship-like Dongdaemun Design Plaza, the historical past of the home unfolds beneath a monumental dome of screens projecting artworks of the ages. It’s the exuberance of the Sixties when founder Achille Maramotti first got down to “make the odd extraordinary,” as Griffiths defined, to the Seventies when consultants reminiscent of Karl Lagerfeld and Jean Charles de Castelbajac introduced the model into the style institution.
“The right coat is the one you’re nonetheless carrying in twenty years’ time, which you cross on to your daughter,” Griffiths mentioned. “I can keep in mind my mum having a belted wrap camel coat with a white fur collar. It wasn’t Max Mara however to me appeared just like the epitome of glamour. My mum is 81 now and nonetheless wears Max Mara, and I nonetheless consider what she would have worn. She was in all probability my first position mannequin.” The designer grew up on Manchester’s punk-rock scene and was skilled by Ossie Clark. “I’m not saying the primary coat I ever designed was the right coat, however it will need to have been fairly good as a result of I gave the prototype to my mum again within the Eighties and she or he wore it for years. Then my sister stole it, and now my niece has stolen it from her. The standard of a Max Mara coat is that you just by no means get bored with it.” Griffiths arrived at Max Mara in 1987, just a few years after Anne-Marie Beretta had joined the model and contributed its final vogue trophy in 1981, the traditional 101801.
An everlasting bestseller, Griffiths put the coat’s longevity right down to its architecturally intelligent design. “It’s bought that highly effective shoulder form that provides you a very sturdy silhouette, and but the form to the physique is kind of fluid and straight. It’s not tough in any approach. It doesn’t rely in your form. It’s bought its personal form. The collar may be very daring and direct, it’s double-breasted, and it goes over something.” It hangs within the room dedicated to the Eighties within the exhibition, which takes place in appropriately coat-weathered temperatures in chilly Seoul. “Once I come to locations like Seoul, I see some ladies carrying Max Mara coats and plenty of ladies carrying imitations. And I take that as a optimistic signal as a result of I do know that these ladies, as quickly as they’ll afford to, will exit and purchase an unique,” Griffiths mentioned, admitting he’s considerably averse to an inexpensive coat. “Those the place I can see that the material has gone all pillowy,” he remarked quietly.
“A coat needs to be a top quality merchandise, and an inexpensive coat actually does make me cringe. I believe everybody ought to attempt to purchase the highest quality coat they’ll, as a result of it’ll final a lifetime.” Strolling via the sprawling exhibition, Griffiths identified the parallel between Max Mara’s designs via the a long time and the way in which by which ladies had been dressing for social and cultural change. The home’s conventional camel coat, he defined, was the property of the boys’s wardrobe till the home appropriated it for its ladies’s energy dressing. “It was the time of Working Woman,” he famous within the Eighties room. “Anne-Marie Beretta constructed the coats across the physique: huge, defensive constructions that gave you standing and made you are feeling assured.” Transferring into the Nineties, Griffiths stopped at one among his personal sketches, an nearly brutalist Bauhaus-inspired linear coat from 1998, the realised model of which Richard Avedon shot on Maggie Rizer. Now, it’s the official picture for the Coats! exhibition.
“It’s very shifting for me to search out, after thirty years, one thing I’ve forgotten about, however I can keep in mind making this sketch one morning after my espresso break. I will need to have made 1000’s and 1000’s of sketches in my profession, however I keep in mind this one,” he smiled, noting that his personal contribution to the Max Mara handwriting had been coats in “a slimmer, extra constructed form than the Eighties quantity, which gave the impression to be getting too huge.” By 2000, Max Mara had taken off globally. Griffiths recalled the “nearly weekly retailer openings” of the affluent decade when Giambattista Valli was introduced in to move up the extra couture-like Atelier line, and “there might by no means be an excessive amount of fur.” But it surely was additionally the last decade when Griffiths started working with Carine Roitfeld, who nonetheless serves as his stylist on Max Mara. She contributed to a extra glamorous Max Mara, which paved the way in which for what Griffiths thought of his private favorite piece in exhibition.
Impressed by his personal youth, the duffle coat from 2006 was coated in gold sequins on Roitfeld’s recommendation. “I simply love the distinction between this powerful Mancunian-looking duffle coat, fairly grim, however fully coated in sequins,” Griffiths mirrored. He was carrying a bespoke gray pinstripe swimsuit with a camel coat over his shoulders. “It’s Max Mara material tailor-made by Timothy Everest in London, so if Max Mara made menswear that is what it might be like,” he defined. “However we’re by no means going to make it, as a result of for too lengthy ladies needed to borrow from males. Now, if males need Max Mara they’ll must borrow from ladies.” His pin-board at Max Mara HQ in Reggio Emilia counts coat icons reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe. “I’ve bought this trope that I like of a film star arriving on the studio within the morning in a white automotive with a white coat wrapped on the waist with a belt, and darkish glasses and her hair swept again. Off-duty film star glamour is what I wish to give to each girl when she places on her Max Mara coat.”
Browse the Coats! exhibition under.