Max Mara Spa - Fashion Designer Encyclopedia



Italian fashion design company

Founded: in 1951 by Achille Maramotti. Company History: Launched Commerciale Abbigliamento Company, 1976, and Marina Rinaldi,

Max Mara SpA, fall/winter 2001-02 collection. © AP/Wide World Photos.
Max Mara SpA, fall/winter 2001-02 collection.
© AP/Wide World Photos.
1980; comprised of five companies by 1990; opened shop in Tokyo, 1993; opened flagship store, New York, and first South American store, in Caracas, 1994; launched cosmetics line, 1997; acquired stake in Marzotto, 1997; introduced Max Mara S, and Sportmax lines, 1999; opened new SoHo flagship and celebrated 50th annual collection, 2001. Company Address: Via Fratelli Cervi 66, 42100 Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Publications

On MAX MARA:

Books

Alfonsi, Maria Vittoria, Leaders in Fashion, Bologna, 1983.

Soli, Pia, Il genio antipatico, Venice, 1984.

Articles

"Che cosa di chi: MaxMara," in Vogue (Milan), October 1984.

"Pianoforte di MaxMara: giunco e sabbia da turismo coloniale," in Vogue (Milan), February 1986.

Mower, Sarah, "Chasing the Wise Monet," in The Guardian (London), 3 July 1986.

Rumbold, Judy, "Grey Cells: Bright Ideas," in The Guardian (London), 7 September 1987.

"Altre scelte da Max Mara," in Vogue (Milan), October 1987.

Armstrong, Lisa, "The Max Factor," in Vogue (London), October 1988.

Tredre, Roger, "A Piece of Cake," in Fashion Weekly (London), 1December 1988.

Pogoda, Dianne M., "Max Mara Takes Madison," in WWD, 7September 1994.

Conti, Samantha, "Conquering New Worlds," in WWD, 29 August 1995.

"Max Mara Buys into Marzotto," in WWD, 12 June 1997.

Hammond, Teena, "Max Mara's Double Life on Rodeo," in WWD, 14December 1998.

Edelson, Sharon, "Max Mara Joining the SoHo Brigade," in WWD, 27October 1999.

Zargani, Luisa, "The Family Business," in WWD, 22 February 2000.

Singer, Natasha, "Luxury Boutiques Start Pouring into Russia," in WWD, 28 November 2000.

"Easy and Breezy—Spirited Sportswear Starred at Both Max Mara and Sportmax," in WWD, 1 October 2001.

***

The brainchild of Achille Maramotti, Max Mara was founded in 1951 and has since become one of Italy's most successful fashion companies. Like many Italian firms, Max Mara remains a family company although, interestingly, no member of the family is a fashion designer. Instead Max Mara operates by the highly successful formula of employing well-known fashion designers to create their collections—a method described by fashion critic Colin McDowell as a form of designer "moonlighting" and which is characteristic of a number of Italian ready-to-wear companies. Designers who have created collections for Max Mara include Anne Marie Beretta, Karl Lagerfeld, Luciano Soprani, Guy Paulin, and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. The identity of more recent Max Mara designers was a jealously-guarded secret; they were, however, acknowledged in retrospect.

The first Max Mara shop was opened in Reggio Emilia in northern Italy in 1951 and the first collection consisted of two coats and a suit which were copies of Paris couture designs. Although Achille Maramotti was officially trained as a lawyer, his family background was firmly entrenched in dressmaking since his mother had founded a tailoring school in 1923. Maramotti's vision to produce designer fashion for the mass market was remarkably farsighted at a time when haute couture still dominated fashion and high fashion ready-to-wear clothing did not exist. Like the whole fashion industry during the early 1950s, Max Mara looked to Paris as inspiration for its designs and produced garments which combined Parisian designs with their quality manufacturing techniques.

By 1969 Maramotti introduced a new line called Sport Max to cater for its younger customers, an early forerunner of diffusion lines which were not an established part of most major fashion companies. Today the company has many labels, catering to clients of all ages and sizes. Max Mara proved to be as astute in its attitude towards the importance of advertising its product as it was in the early production of fashionable ready-to-wear. As early as 1970 the company commissioned photographer Sarah Moon to capture the mood of their

Max Mara SpA, fall/winter 2001-02 collection: suede jacket and pants. © AP/Wide World Photos.
Max Mara SpA, fall/winter 2001-02 collection: suede jacket and pants.
© AP/Wide World Photos.
collections for a series of advertisements. Since then the essence of Max Mara has been captured by prominent fashion photographers including Paolo Roversi, Oliviero Toscani, Steven Meisel, and Peter Lindbergh.

The basis of the Max Mara design philosophy is understated, easy to wear clothes in luxury fabrics, with an emphasis placed on quality of cut and production. The company consistently emphasizes the requirements of the Max Mara customer and the importance of innovation has always been carefully balanced by wearability. Luigi Maramotti, Achille's son and a director of the Max Mara group, maintains, "Our customers are led by fashion, but are never its slaves." Tailoring is one of the company's strong points, although in the softer Italian mode as opposed to the stiff British style of tailoring. Max Mara is perhaps best recognized for its coats; these garments best illustrate the firm's simplicity of style, cut in soft wools or cashmere mixes.

According to Luigi, "Clothes must be designed with an understanding of the women who wear them and the demands of their life. Max Mara's highly successful policy of employing design consultants results in clothes which serve an international demand within an Italian design concept. It has always been Max Mara's aim to give the consumer a worthy product with a high ratio of content, price, and quality." By the dawn of the 21st century, the firm was certainly serving these needs, with 700 stores in 90 countries, most recently Russia, and a recent U.S. expansion which opened shops in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Beverly Hills, Houston, Miami, Palm Beach, San Francisco, and Seattle. Offering three dozen lines under the Max Mara umbrella, customers are sure to find apparel and a growing mix of accessories to their liking.

—Catherine Woram;

updated by Nelly Rhodes

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