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Max Mara: When Fashion Meets Art

In China, the presentation of Max Mara’s pre-fall collection ended 2016 on a splashy note.

Shanghai: The Chosen One

Shanghai is a city developing at an astounding pace. What takes other cities 10 years to accomplish, Shanghai completes in one. The area in and around the city is home to some 60 million inhabitants and, by day, its bustling core is a destination for commerce, the arts and fashion, its streets teeming with the sort of well-dressed people found in any international city.


This is all to say that glamorous Shanghai is the perfect backdrop for a splashy fashion happening. On Dec. 15, the lamp posts that line the roads of the posh Jing’an District were hung with banners announcing “Max Mara Monopolis!” – a major cultural moment for the city hosted by Italian luxury label Max Mara. With countless high-end fashion houses vying for the attention of the large and important Chinese market, Max Mara, which has had a presence in China since the early 1990s, did something different: It presented a fashion show in a history-filled space in collaboration with one of China’s most prominent artists, Lui Wei. The event helped to remind attendees that the brand and its founding family posses the world’s second-largest privately owned art collection and supports creative endeavours around the world.

The over-the-top event also highlighted the growing trend of brands investing heavily in their pre-fall and resort collections. These mid-season offerings were once screened only for buyers looking for luxe basics to fill out store racks after customers had cleaned out the more fashion-forward pieces from the main spring and fall collections.

When Fashion Meets Art

Max Mara’s venue in China was the Shanghai Exhibition Centre. For the one-night-only event, the exterior facade of the circa-1955 structure (built as a gift to China from the Soviet Union in celebration of communism) was bathed in pink light, and inside, a big white box obscured the runway. As the lights went down and the music began, the box lifted, revealing the stirring sculptural work of Wei.

Parading past the works were models styled in a mix of Max Mara’s 2017 pre-fall collection as well as specially designed pieces conceived in collaboration with Wei that were available in Max Mara flagship shops and online immediately following the show. Part of the show was dark and glamorous with sharp shoulders and cinched waists inspired by 1940s film noir and sirens of the big screen like Joan Crawford, followed by dresses and separates in more jovial hues. And the show closed on a lighter note with gauzy ruched skirts in tulle and splendid coats in a delicate colour combination of sage, lemon and sky blue.

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