When the weather map turns from yellow to orange to deep, deep red, smart travellers look north for the cool spots. Max Mara feels right at home in Scandinavia, thanks to its hip metropolises and the accessibility of Nordic design. But epic natural landscapes and a folklore redolent of mystery and magic offer Max Mara a new dimension. Scandinavia’s progressive character goes back a long way. History remembers Vikings for ruthless plundering, but who knew they also sewed the seeds of Nordic gender equality?
Queen Christina of Sweden was a feminist icon before the term existed and the wave of ‘women’s liberation’ in the nineteenth century was, well, ahead of the wave. In fin-de-siecle Scandinavia’s philosophical ideas saturated every aspect of culture. Henrik Ibsen never claimed to be a feminist, but he was proclaimed as the inventor of the ‘New Woman’ for his plays describing families reacting to the pressure of a straight-laced bourgeois milieu.
Selma Lagerlöf pulls together all the strands that run through Max Mara’s Resort collection. Born to a wealthy Swedish family in 1858 she developed ideas that ran contrary to the starchy values of her day. As a writer she argued for social change and progress, with views on the role of women and sexuality that were ahead of her time. She belonged completely to the world of Ibsen and also Munch, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. She represents Scandinavia’s contribution to the making of the modern metropolitan self. Lagerlöf spun tales of contemporary life, regional legends, classical myths and fairy tale motifs. In 1909, she became the first woman ever to win a Nobel Prize, signaling the reintegration of the folkloric heritage into Scandinavian culture. Max Mara presents a collection in which the no-nonsense, upright, tailored silhouette of the 1900s yields modern looking gigot sleeves, ankle grazing skirts, elbow length capes and smart blouses to wear with bow ties. In contrast there are billowing tunics, long and short, featuring black and ivory braids, pom poms, tassels and studs that echo folk motifs. A striking modernity is achieved by taking folk blouses and recutting them in linear modern fabrics, stripping away superfluous decor. Midsommar is the folk festival that celebrates the gift of the summer. One of the most charming traditions is the collection of seven types of wild flowers - Septem Flores. The legend says that anyone lucky enough to find one of each should sleep with them under their pillow in order to dream of their future sweetheart. Prompted by the meticulously recorded watercolors of a herbarium, Max Mara takes a fresh look at florals; speckled with sprigs in paintbox colours like a Midsommar meadow, the collection features floaty looks for dreamy nights with graphic white collars and cuffs for a hint of city smartness.