An empowering collection: Max Mara Fall Winter 2018 brings together the tailored wardrobe from the executive suite and bold counterculture details.
One of fashion’s most significant recent macro trends is the rise of the power coat. This very specific piece of outerwear – oversized, expensive-looking, often with large lapels, dropped shoulders and an ankle-skimming hem – has become a key wardrobe component for women such as Kim Kardashian, Melania Trump and Meghan Markle, who are frequently photographed out in the elements. Over the past five years it has blown the neatly belted three-quarter length coat out of the water as the outerwear style in which to be seen.
The Italian brand Max Mara, perhaps the world’s best-known producer of high-quality coats, has been integral to this shift. Max Mara is so good at outerwear – and famous for its camel-coloured cashmere and nubby faux fur “teddy bear” style coats in particular – that its fashion shows must tread a difficult line between simply showing off great tailoring and giving critics something new to chew on.
On Thursday morning in Milan, the brand themed its collection around two 80s style tribes: the power dressers who, according to press notes, had “the keys to the executive suite” at a price of “strict conformity”; and also the punks “20 or 30 floors below, in shadowy subterranean nightclubs”. Forty years ago, the notes said, women could not belong to both camps – now women “demand success on [their] own terms and dress accordingly”.
The show started off with a phalanx of supermodels – Lara Stone, Doutzen Kroes, Gigi Hadid, Jourdan Dunn, Kaia Gerber – wearing a lot of leopard print, with cuddly feline-patterned coats worn over clashing pieces, such as checked voluminous blanket skirts, or layered over leopard skirts and trousers. The punk references were seen in fringing, long, kilt-like leather skirts, studded Camden Lock-esque belts and leather suspenders that hung over the hips from the waistbands of skirts and trousers.
There were seductive moments – big dusky pink coats threatened to slip off the shoulders and were paired with long, pink slip dresses – but the silhouette was always extremely covered up: there were pencil skirts and kilts worn over trousers, many swishy, full-length skirts, as well as those gargantuan coats, which are, not coincidentally, very complementary to the long lines of the modest silhouette that remains dominant on the catwalks.
Max Mara has a huge international client base and two of the models – Halima Aden, who first walked for Max Mara in Februay 2017, and newcomer Amina Adan both wore headscarves. This time last year, Aden’s appearance on the catwalk in a hijab was an international news story. Twelve months later, judging by the crowd’s reaction, in an encouraging sign for catwalk diversity, not an eyebrow was raised.
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