News that the next 007 is reportedly female has reached Max Mara HQ in Milan. At the Italian brand’s spring/summer 2020 show on Thursday, espionage chic was the main thread in a collection that cast the 1960s secret service agent Modesty Blaise as its undercover protagonist.
The creative director, Ian Griffiths, kitted out his statuesque army of operatives in military-style shirts, skinny ties and strict pencil skirts with practical pocket belts – though there was space for only a baby magnifying glass in there. The palette was incognito too, with greys and whites punctuated by occasional spats of pastel.
Several ensembles were accessorised with holsters which, although an unusual detail for a brand known for its heritage cashmere coats, the show notes placed them in the context of the fictional narrative. With the leading lady capable of working without weapons, they relayed, there was “no need for a gun then, but the holster makes for a very stylish design detail”.
The audience was told the collection was inspired by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who has been livening up the upcoming Bond script. However, the long Pippi Longstocking-style plaits and knee-high socks were more aligned with the minxy and experimental wardrobe of her Killing Eve character, Villanelle. It fell instead to three-piece suiting and cashmere and satin coats to remind us that Max Mara caters to the everyday woman as well as wannabe secret operatives.
Later in the day, Fendi was reconfiguring its aesthetic too, in the second season without its long-term co-creative director, Karl Lagerfeld. Staged against a glowing semi-circular lightbox reminiscent of sunrise, the set’s subtext was that it was a new dawn under a solo Silvia Fendi who worked alongside the Chanel frontman.
Like other fashion houses this fashion week, the brand eschewed the big logos and Insta-friendly product to focus on a more nostalgic look.
Quilted jackets in retro prints, crochet two-pieces and terry towelling paid homage to summer holidays in the 70s. Probably not packed in those suitcases were any of the many coats this collection had to offer. They came long and in suede and covered in fur which, despite growing pressure from animal-rights groups and commitments from other luxury houses to stop using, Fendi continues to produce year-round.
It fell to Margherita Missoni of the Italian fashion dynasty to bring the fun to day two of the showcase. The third-generation designer has recently taken over the label’s M Missoni label and is intent on attracting a new audience by selling its wares at a competitive price.
She staged her inaugural outing on a tram that circulated around central Milan, picking up new passengers modelling the SS20 collection over five stops. The designer said this was an attempt to avoid “catwalk antics”.
The collection was inspired by the Missoni archive, from which she took never-seen-before prints and fabrics to fuse together a fresh – yet distinctively Missoni – aesthetic.
“It’s conceptual and physical upcycling … authorised appropriation,” Missoni said. “A lot of our heritage isn’t the iconic parts that took off in the 60s and 70s that everyone is familiar with.”
The models – men and women and ranging in age from 20s to 60s who were street-cast or friends of Missoni – wore their own items of clothing alongside her new collection.
The range included sweaters with old logos spliced from two designs, necklaces made from old buttons, and a forgotten scribbled Missoni signature reproduced on tracksuit bottoms, evoking a sartorial timeline that Missoni put her stamp on.