Not many designers understand a woman’s needs quite like Ian Griffiths at Max Mara does. His clothes are beautifully constructed, well designed, luxurious and unapolegetically wearable—versatile, forever pieces nobody will ever tire of. Editor-in-chief, Cai Mei Khoo, catches up with the maestro after a glorious show (we want all the coats) to find out what made him tick for AW16.
I understand that you were inspired by constructivism and modernism this season. Where did this whole idea come about?
Well, everyone’s talking about the new machine age—the digital age—and that got me thinking: “How do we go forward in the machine age? Let’s look back at the last one.” So I studied the period in the 1920s and I discovered these outstanding movements like constructivism and modernism. What I really discovered is that in those movements, women were so important and could attend design schools at the Bauhaus in Germany. It was the women who developed all those theories about creating energy through the way you put colours together. So I thought, let’s do this collection that’s all about energy, women’s energy. And women getting on and succeeding, women being empowered.
It’s interesting that you thought ahead, but you referenced the past for a new collection.
I think cultural awareness is so important and you can never do anything new without knowing what’s been done before. I think you always have to inform yourself about what has been done, to give yourself the chance to know where you are. To know what’s been done and move forward.
And what do you think are some key strengths for Max Mara? I love that you keep bringing back camel coats, and I love the huge drapes this season, the blocks of colour.
We are constantly reinventing the trademarks of the house. The important thing that runs through all our collections is the fact that it’s completely wearable. You can wear those clothes and they give you confidence. You’re a woman, you know how it feels. Sometimes you don’t know what to wear, or you feel judged in your clothes. With Max Mara, you’re going to look strong and powerful. You can get on with your life and you can succeed in a man’s world.
What are some of your favourite looks for this season?
They’re all my favourite looks. If it’s not my favourite, it’s not on this show. My absolute favourites are the things we’re doing for next season.
What do you think about this whole direct to consumer approach fashion is leaning towards? Do you think it’s something Max Mara will adopt?
I think that everyone is aware what’s happening in fashion. Everyone looks at shows, and the public’s aware of it. But I don’t think that people necessarily want those things there and then. It’s a natural cycle between the time of showing and then the anticipation which is then created by the press, because we have editorials coming out, covers. And it’s the magazines that show people how they’re going to wear those clothes in their real lives. It takes six months for people to process that, so I think people are ready to buy those clothes in about six months time. Also from a point of view from production, to maintain the quality we do, we have to have six months to benefit in a way that’s going to guarantee quality. I think that in fashion, they’re always brands that are trying to find new ways of doing things. I think that’s good, but I think for ours, there’s the model that we have now and it works.
And something we can look forward to for next season?
Colour. Lots of colour. Camel and colour.
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