It was a night of firsts for Max Mara. The first time the Italian House was holding a fashion show in China? Check. The first time a Max Mara show (and a capsule collection) was produced in collaboration with an artist? Check. The first time it was showing a see-now, buy-now collection (for the aforementioned capsule collection)? Check. The result? Pure bellissima!
#MaxMaraMonopolis saw 1,000 international guests descend upon the Shanghai Exhibition Center, in all its neoclassical glory, awash in a dazzling display of neon lights. Walking up the stairs into the majestic building, guests entered a kaleidoscopic tunnel (which disappeared post-show to reveal the cavernous after-party venue) leading into the massive hall. Inside, rows of seats lined both sides of the runway, which was completely covered so no one could see what laid behind the white walls.
Knowing the set had been designed by Chinese contemporary artist Liu Wei, guests-including social media stars Irene Kim, Kristina Bazan and Eleonora Carisi in the front row-waited in anticipation to see what would be unveiled. On cue, the walls slowly moved up to reveal a set made up of Liu Wei’s past works, a medley of conceptual sculptures and installations; as well as models dressed in pieces from the Max Mara + Liu Wei collection. Laser cut alpaca embroidered onto a base of wool and cashmere, trompe l’oeil prints and jacquards, all in Max Mara’s signature camel-black-white palette, adorned a wrap coat, bomber, and more. These models then proceeded to stay in position as their peers dressed in the pre-fall collection came marching down the runway.
Inspired by silver-screen legends Joan Crawford and Lauren Bacall, the show played out like a retro-futuristic film about a fantastical mega city (the city being a major theme for Liu Wei). Creative director Ian Griffiths envisioned a film noir fantasy of forties-style razor sharp darted shoulders and cinched waists, ruched tulle skirts and dresses, tailored pants, dreamed up for the elegant urbanite. The colour palette reflected the multi-faceted modern woman, seguing from white to inky black to midnight blue, before dipping into the brand’s trademark camel, finally morphing into unexpected, but wholly welcome, pastels and prints. Naturally, the most luxurious coats in cashmere, camel’s hair and alpaca accompanied almost every look – because, in a world where anything (as this past year has proven) can happen, there’s nothing like having some constants you can count on. Brava, Max Mara!
The Max Mara + Liu Wei capsule collection will be available at Max Mara at #01-10 Mandarin Gallery from 16 December.
By Annabelle Fernandez