When I was a little girl, I was positively obsessed with the Disney film adaption of Lewis Carol’s Alice and Wonderland. So much so in fact, that I was convinced that I was named for the lead character in the film (Alicia is a French derivative of the name “Alice”) and disappointed when I learned that that wasn’t the case. My favorite part of the film and book has always been when Alice first falls down the rabbit hole, drinks the magic potion and shrinks to get through the tiny little door. There was always something exciting and freeing about the notion of being able to change the shape and abilities of one’s body at a whim; perhaps that was an early sign of my love for fashion coming into play. Unlike Alice, if I want to grow a bit taller I throw on a pair of heels. If I want to shrink down a size or two, it’s a skinny belt and my go-to black velvet dress. Fashion gives one the freedom to change and Max Mara’s pre-fall collection encapsulates this notion, breaking the mold with unconventionally large silhouettes and peculiar proportions reminiscent of my favorite Disney film.
Max Mara’s pre-fall collection, a series of over-sized coats, totes, dresses, and pants (petite ladies beware), was unusual but polished in a formal, 1960s Pan-Am flight attendant sort of way. For the last five years there has been a strong emphasis in fashion on emphasizing one’s figure and accentuating one’s assets. With that in mind, it is intriguing and refreshing to see collections like this one where the body is almost de-emphasized to the point of not being important at all. In one image for example, the model (Alana Zimmer) poses in a tawny colored pair of blown out trousers together with a structured blazer. In this over-sized, monochromatic ensemble, the model’s figure is only defined by the very slightly nipped in waist. Her black and cognac, Sherlock Holmes-esque hat and sleek patent satchel create a sense that this woman is one of power and is in control of her life. She doesn’t need to dress in sexy pieces or in quintessentially feminine colors because she is so comfortable with herself and is so confident in her ability to seduce.
For Fall/Winter a strong theme of the season was overtly feminine decadence. From Giambattista Valli to Givenchy, the season seemed to be characterized by a dripping ornateness. Max Mara’s introduction into Spring is refreshing in its simplicity and in the way the masculine cuts and silhouettes complement the subtly feminine accents. The colors of the collection are also earthy and neutral with taupe and cognac set off by pops of turquoise and deep violet. Fur, pleats, and the odd empire waist-line add just the right amount of luxury and romance to an otherwise very sharp and commanding collection.
– Alicia Arruda