Stepping into the heart of history

fashion December 07, 2017 01:00

By THE NATION

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A new exhibition by Max Mara examines the history of the brand since its founding



THE LATEST edition of “Coats!” the exhibition by Italian style and luxury brand Max Mara, arrived in South Korea late last month and is showing at the futuristic and multi-functional DDP at Dongdaemun Design Plaza until Tuesday.

Dedicated to more than 60 years of history of Max Mara, “Coats!” has once again been designed by Studio Migliore Servetto Architetti Associati.

Known for stylish coats, form-skimming separates, sharp suits and elegant accessories, Max Mara, was found by Achille Maramotti in 1951. The exhibition is set up inside the monumental dome and presents a completely new overview of the Max Mara heritage, plunging visitors right into the heart of the history of the coat and of the brand. Winding its way through seven themed rooms, a series of modern-day wunderkammer, packed with garments, sounds, memorabilia and interactive features, represent the vision that moved Maramotti “to make the ordinary extraordinary”. The intuition that inspired him to turn the masculine coat into an icon of a woman’s wardrobe is one of the most visionary adventures of the Italian clothing industry. The exhibition starts from the dream of the perfect coat.

“Coats!” opens with the site-specific digital installation by the Korean artist Yiyun Kang, curated by Daehyung Lee. It explores the space of the dome, turning features of the production process and images from Max Mara’s historical archive into a bright, living material that gives a distinctive visual slant to the exhibition’s piazza and follows the route through seven rooms of the Max Mara world. The rooms can be visited either in chronological order or according to theme, following the emotions, music, shifts in atmospheres, scenarios and colours that mark the move from one decade to the next.

Each room opens with a set, a sort of theatrical representation, suspended between imagination and reality, which metaphorically places the focus on a specific theme of Max Mara’s history. These are: “The founder” – Achille Maramotti and the dream of the coat (‘50s), “Creative study” – the democratic coat, designers and pop (‘60s), “Colorama” – the coat in Technicolor and the art of experimentation (‘70s), “The icon” – the magic of the coat and Italian know how (‘80s), “The set” – The representation of the coat and the perfect image (‘90s), “The Max Mara women” – the journey of the coat and the female universe (2000), “The fashion show” – runway glamour and new projects (last decade of 2000).

More than 90 coats are on show including the iconic 101801 style. Beginning from the early days of dressmaking and its evolution into fashion, the coats show the changes in taste, society and lifestyles that have marked each decade. Also on display are with sketches by the designers who have worked with Max Mara, among them Anne Marie Beretta, Emmanuelle Khanh, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Charles de CastelBajac, Narciso Rodriguez, Giambattista Valli and Proenza Schouler. 

The exhibition also features historical magazines, raw materials, advertising campaigns shot by such famous fashion photographers as Richard Avedon, Arthur Elgort, Steven Meisel, Sarah Moon, Max Vadukul, Mario Sorrenti, David Sims and Craig McDean, celebrity portraits and everyday objects (sewing machines, measuring tapes, scissors) plus artworks representing the fruit of the dialogue between contemporary artists and the founder, an avid art collector. This continues today with the Collezione Maramotti.

Featuring fascinating items belonging to the historical archive of the Group the exhibition offers a reconstruction of the varieties of stories and inventions behind the know-how of Max Mara illustrating the evolution of the product and the design culture underlying each garment. “Coats!” reveals how the family business, by engaging with the local area, Reggio Emilia, and with the world, has been able to interpret the desires of women since 1951 right up to today.

A full star cast attended the opening, among them Thai actress Khemupsorn “Cherry” Sirisukha and South Korean superstars Im Yoon A, Irene Kim, and Yoyo Cao all clad in the very latest outfits from the Max Mara collection.