When in doubt, take a cue from Marilyn Monroe. It’s a creed that works well for almost all social and sartorial dilemmas (though perhaps avoid the dependency on barbiturates and visits to presidential offices), and it was the principle that had inspired MaxMara’s autumn/winter 2015 show, a collection of thin cashmere knits, mohair corsets and pencil skirts, all wrapped up in quilted dressing-gown silks, alpaca and fleecy tweeds that wrapped the body in cosy cocoon coats. The starting point here, explained the show notes, was a “much washed camel blanket” as seen in portraits of the blonde screen star shot by George Barris on Santa Monica beach in 1962. A demonstration of her more intellectual side, she wore it “on the sand, hair windswept, her head thrown back in laughter”. It is, perhaps, the most specific show reference we’ve seen so far.
So followed an edit of similarly luxurious and comforting clothes in a palette of muted nudes, creams, camels and blues. A Norwegian-style cardigan belted over a pencil skirt set the tone, while coats were oversized and masculine — worn over an otherwise shrunken, but shapely, silhouette. Shoes were tasselled loafers and the looks were worn throughout with bookish-looking spectacles. (I’ve detected another emerging tend in Milan, the rise of Nuts in May-style pale-framed oversized eyewear, as worn by Alison Steadman in Mike Leigh’s 1976 classic camping tragicomedy.)
The bags were harder-edged: a “Hollywood” style, in black pony skin, that jarred a little with the softly-softly palette, but were loosened up with the addition of a rucksack — a bag style that continues to dominate the season. As a collection, it wasn’t especially revelatory, nor original, but after last season’s sludge-coloured shadow flowers, this was a far more commercial, sophisticated show. After all: who doesn’t want to look like Marilyn?
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