For Max Mara’s 2023 Resort show, creative director Ian Griffiths’ inspiration came in the spirit of Natália Correia, a Portuguese intellectual, poet, activist, and one of history’s many forgotten women. She was a mid-20th century radical — or, in other words, an impassioned woman with beliefs she spoke about freely. Her Anthology of Erotic and Satirical Portuguese Poetry was considered particularly indecent and earned her a three-year suspended prison sentence in 1966. But, despite her substantial impact on Lisbon society and the greater art world, her legacy remains widely unknown. In his latest collection, though, Griffiths invites you to make Correia’s acquaintance, demanding the indomitable woman receive her dues at long last.
The fashion house’s creative director encountered a painting of Correia by artist Nikias Skapinakis while touring Lisbon’s Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation last year. And last night, he returned to the museum once again, using its verdant garden as the backdrop for Max Mara’s Resort 2023 runway. With a soundtrack of lulling Portuguese fado, models maneuvered through the brutalist architecture and concrete steps in billowing sheath dresses, peek-a-boo fishnet tights, and off-the-shoulder, sultry knit gowns. Contrasted against tailored separates — namely crisp trousers, soft blazers, and structured blouses — a theme of multi-faceted femininity was evident. One model wore a roomy white button-down that hit mid-thigh while her too-large cuffs and sleeves dangled freely. For the rom-com aficionados, the look will feel reminiscent of the oft-depicted visual of a leading heroine borrowing her boyfriend’s shirt the morning after a romantic encounter.
Overcoats, an undeniable, signature Max Mara house code, were perhaps some of Griffiths’ most expansive offerings on the catwalk. Oversized soft, teddy coats — one was even adorned with diamond-encrusted seahorse motifs — begged to be touched, and thigh-grazing camel jackets felt like flirty interpretations of previous longline, floor-sweeping iterations. You’ll notice the collection’s many cinched-in trenches will put you readily into a fall mood, despite July peeking its blistering head around the corner.
Texture is key in this collection. Silk, ruffled hems peeked out mid-shin on wool midi dresses for a strategic showing of Max Mara’s iconic minimalist point-of-view with a more spirited approach. “Crunchy degradè pleated silk taffeta is the perfect medium for a dramatic gesture that goes from day to night; whether it’s a floor-sweeping bustier or a corona bursting from beneath the hem of a pencil skirt,” reads a press release shared by the fashion house, inviting you to take stock of which pieces you’d like to invite into your party-dressing rotation once they hit market.
Occasion dressing wasn’t universal throughout, though; A slew of relaxed cotton tees serves as more casual standouts that would pair well with your favorite worn-in pair of true-blues. Inspired by the romantic Portuguese tradition known as 'handkerchiefs of love,' the white T-shirts were embroidered with hearts, flowers, and doves to emphasize the show’s feminine and sensual undertones.
Griffiths cites his interpretation of Correia’s controversial Anthology of Erotic and Satirical Portuguese Poetry for helping him establish the feminine tone at the heart of the show: “[It] was considered outré by the authorities against whom she campaigned; To Max Mara, it suggests a more voluptuous curvier silhouette with an occasional nod to the gathered skirts of traditional [Portuguese] dress,” reads a press release shared by the fashion house.
“Just as Max Mara has formulated its own brand of feminism, so did Correia,” continues the press release statement. “Counter to the politically correct format of the movement, [Correia] argued for sensuality and passionate femininity.” Fluctuating between organic, free-flowing silhouettes and Max Mara’s signature penchant for sharp tailoring, the collection serves as a reclamation of female power — which, given recent news of Roe Vs. Wade being overturned, feels particularly poignant. Correia upheld a self-defined and perpetuated sense of freedom, a luxury many women across America now no longer have.
If you missed Max Mara’s Resort 2023 show, watch it online or simply scroll ahead to see a few of the standout collection looks that’ll serve as an abridged version of the dramatic runway.