BY: HAL RUBENSTEIN
Max Mara’s clothing doesn’t shout to your attention. Instead, each piece whispers for you to touch it, feel it and when you put it on, it’s like a welcome embrace. The label’s streamlined silhouettes and swoon-worthy fabrics present a woman as the essence of serene. Knowing elegance, Max Mara’s commitment to understated luxury is precisely why Gabriel & Co. is delighted to partner with this renowned Milanese house for February’s Designer Flash. Ian Griffiths, Max Mara’s creative director, is as obsessed with craftsmanship, comfort and longevity as Gabriel is. And not only does he see the connection too, he’s a little bit jealous of our mantra.
MAX MARA INTERVIEW
HR: Max Mara is that rare label that’s been consistent with luxury since its inception 60 years ago. Yet collections always look current, and desirable. How do you manage that?
IG: Because Max Mara’s mission is creating real clothes for real people in real situations. The women we dress are ambitious, confident and smart, and our goal is to dress them in a way where our clothes are secondary to how wonderful they make them look. We know we are judged by what we are wearing, and a woman comes to Max Mara because she knows that problem will be solved.
HR: You don’t seem overly driven to design clothes for Instagram moments, or show stoppers on the red carpet?
IG: Those looks don’t last. The true value of Max Mara is that every piece a woman buys will stay in her wardrobe for more than one season. They’re so well designed, they outlast fashion; instant classics you can have for a lifetime, even if you wear them every day.
Like Gabriel jewelry, Max Mara is not
cheap, but it’s an accessible luxury that
you can enjoy every day. We both create
pieces that are recognizable with a twist
so that they have distinction
rather than oddity.
HR: But doesn’t every brand still want to be cool?
IG: Absolutely. And my mission is to translate our look for a younger customer who has a less formal dress code without sacrificing quality. Regardless of the climate, people always respond positively to quality. Max Mara is where a young woman comes when she wants to tell people she has made it. We’ve always empowered women. And these days, that means an awful lot.
HR: The hallmark of the brand has always been incredible outerwear. Your coats are so sumptuous you could sleep in them.
IG: The coat is the staple of any woman’s wardrobe. It’s almost like architecture because it is a statement that defines how a woman wants to present herself to the world. So a coat has to radiate prestige, functionality, beauty and ease. And most appealing of all, it should be timeless.
HR: Perhaps that’s what originally drew me to Gabriel. What is now labeled ‘fashion jewelry’ is expensive but it looks of the moment and disposable. Jewelry should be forever.
IG: Exactly. Like Gabriel jewelry, Max Mara is not cheap, but it’s an accessible luxury that you can enjoy every day. We both create pieces that are recognizable with a twist so that they have distinction rather than oddity. I think the best example I have of that is that years ago I had a coat made for my mother, which she later gave to my sister, and now my niece wears it. Three generations wearing the same beautiful coat with pride. That’s why you never find Max Mara in vintage shops.
HR: And that’s just how we feel about fine jewelry. Our tag line is ‘Fine Jewelry Everyday’ but that every day last forever because no one ever discards of diamonds. They become part of your wardrobe, your history and your life.
IG: Your pieces are effortlessly beautiful like our clothes. In fact, I think your slogan is such a great one, if you hadn’t used it we would have stolen it.