If MaxMara is known for one thing, it’s his signature camel coat. As anticipated, the designer’s timeless item once again graced the Milan runways; this time, however, it came adorned and paired with unprecedented gilded upgrades. A change so dramatic, the revamped camel coat signaled the arrival — as put by W Magazine — of a “new MaxMara woman.”
The notion of new permeated the entire collection. The brand dubbed the collection “a wave of modern and progressive energy,” boasting a fabulous array of vibrant fabrics, contrasting colors and reinvented silhouettes. Mara dressed the ‘working woman’ as a bold go-getter, unapologetically decked out in lime green and turquoise. But what makes this season’s collection most fascinating, and what brings the oddly colored clothes to life, was the story behind the collection. Mara was not merely playing with color blocking, but rather curating a decadent fusion of history and fashion; modern energy fueled, ironically, by the past.
The notion of a new MaxMara woman is a nod to the designer’s unlikely muse for this season’s collection: the New Woman of Weimar Germany. Mara’s pieces embodied the free-spirited feminism that defined the Weimar Republic, while also incorporating fixtures inspired by the era’s art movements. Set amongst a reimagined Berlin cabaret, MaxMara’s Fall 2016 ready-to-wear collection revived the Weimar period’s cultural achievements in an ode to both Europe’s past and today’s present (leaving me wondering if the designer is secretly a student in my History class).
A time period whose cultural significance is easily overshadowed by its stereotype as a dismal age for the defeated country, the Weimar Era was much more than debt and inflation and anger; it was an age of both political and culture revolution. Weimar Germany birthed a variety of cultural changes, from the sexual revolution to the Dada movement, the Bauhaus to the New Woman. A symbol of Weimar modernity, the New Woman represented feminism and individuality during the time period. The New Woman was fabulous, and feared not when it came to exploring who she was and asserting her individuality. Mara encouraged his customers to do the same. The designer recreated the traditional pantsuit Weimar woman typically sported with girlish touches and feminine necklines. Vogue UK describes the collection as “clothes for the confident modern woman.”
Mara’s collection was also heavily influenced by Dadaism, a satirical, existentialist art form that came to fruition during the Weimar era. Dada declared art was dead and rejected the typical social order in an effort to create a new set of values. Mara’s collection reflected the basic principles of Dadaism in that he reinvented traditional silhouettes to forge a new order for fashion. Each individual look evoked the spirit of Dada; reimagined coats and pantsuits, dress and sequined rompers. Mara attempted to shatter the image of a typical work suit, delivering the traditional ensemble in lime green, bright yellow and soft pink. The designer brings versatility and color to a season so often tainted by nature’s darker colors. Elegant blue leather gloves are matched with ruby red shoes and a punchy orange coat; aquamarine gloves accompany a baby pink pantsuit, decorated with a random array of black and white stripes.
Mara’s use of color and reworked silhouettes evoked the Weimar spirit to defy fashion norms and create a new way of dressing, a new order which, in the words of the brand itself, “breaks all the rules.” It was a solid effort, but the designer could have used more than mere colors and shapes to make his point.