Not all heroes wear capes (but some do!)
Max Mara takes on its classic 101801 coat and teases out a new way of wearing it in a simple yet transformative design gesture inspired by Italian avantgarde art.
Text Anaïs Conijn
The Collezione Maramotti, an art collection started by fashion brand Max Mara’s pater familias, Achille Maramotti and nurtured over the decades, used to line the hallways of the fashion brand’s HQ. The disruptive ideas embodied in these works served as a constant source of inspiration to the team. But never before did art figure so explicitly in Max Mara’s collection as it does in Max Mara’s 2019 Resort, presented - where else? - amidst the actual works in the original Max Mara factory that now serves as a gallery.
Max Mara Resort 2019 turns specifically to the early acquisitions from the Italian avantgardes: their bold gestures, truth to materials, latent energy, poetry and potent symbols inspire a take on modernity that’s tactile, deconstructed and raw-edged.
There’s a new emphasis on texture, where Arte Povera inspires sinuous twists, knots and plaits. We recognise in a series of calligraphic prints the fascination Cy Twombly had with print letters, which, separated from their literal meanings turn into elegant dancelike movements on the surface of the canvas.
It is the instantly recognisable silhouette of the iconic 101801 coat, a steady presence and must-have outwear staple since 1981. Its slouchy shape, mannishly oversized yet elegant drape, its kimono sleeves and double-breasted fastening, make it the timeless coat that is passed down through generations of women. It features to this day, often unadjusted from the original design, in Max Mara runway shows. But now, like the swift motion of Zorro’s sword, a couple of gashes lay bare another take on this classic coat.
It is a simple gesture: two diagonal slits over the ribs just about where you’d expect pockets. Instead, this simple yet dramatic gesture opens up the classic and iconic 101801 coat to an entirely new way of wearing it: stick your arms through to wear the coat like a cape, its sleeves falling flowingly behind the shoulders. The notion that an exit of course may serve as an entrance, too, is a tantalising notion to cold hands seeking warmth.
And it is in this transformative gesture, teasing the cape from the coat, that we recognise the true inspiration of those 20th century avantgardes: where a seemingly simple act of recontextualising revitalises the familiar, suggesting the excitement of the new.
Hand-sewn cashmere coat which can be worn as a cape. Button fastening.
Images: Max Mara