As a fourth wave of feminism washes over the globe, Max Mara investigates the roots of the movement through the lens of fashion.
As a fourth wave of feminism washes over the globe, Max Mara investigates the roots of the movement through the lens of fashion. The brand’s Fall/Winter 2016 collection returns to the time of Weimar Germany in the 1930s, and the emergence of the “neue frau” or “New Woman” that began to appear and coalesce around that time. Berlin, in particular, was at the center of the movement, due to several political and economic factors.
The brand’s Fall/Winter 2016 collection returns to the time of Weimar Germany in the 1930s, and the emergence of the “neue frau” or “New Woman” that began to appear and coalesce around that time.
In 1920, the city passed the Greater Berlin Act which united suburban towns into one region, causing Berlin’s population to rapidly increase. Soon, Berlin went from a conservative city to a thriving, liberal metropolis, and as it grew, so did opportunities for women outside of the home. Working outside the home not only made women more visible, but it also gave them independent incomes for the first time. With expendable income, women invested in leisure activities, clothes, and beauty products, which made Berlin an interesting case study for Max Mara. With this historical inspiration set in place, the brand went about translating the “neue frau” into a sizzling series of leggy and liberated looks, paired with the best outerwear selection that Milan Fashion Week has seen so far.
Set to a cabaret soundtrack, the show recalled the setting of nightlife in 1930s Berlin. Max Mara’s first look made the reference point radiantly clear: a smooth, perfect camel-colored coat topped by another coat decorated by gold, glittering sequins was paired with fishnets and long leather gloves, which instantly associated the look with influences from the past. The brand’s modern spin on the “New Woman” gave her plenty of provocative options, like micro playsuits and sequined jazz shorts, but she was able to cloak her freedoms beneath impeccably tailored coats.
As social mores in Berlin loosened, women took more risks with their fashion choices, some even going so far as to appear in pinstriped suits, which were also represented on Max Mara’s runway in generous silhouettes. The collection also featured bold graphics borrowed from the Bauhaus movement, which happened to rise alongside the “New Woman” in the Weimar Republic. These elements were found in splashy stripes which were front-and-center on plush shearling suits, crocheted vests, fuzzy sweaters, and more. On Instagram, Max Mara described its looks as possessing the “dynamic power of modernity”, and one certainly feels a charge of pride at the thought of fashion acting as a tool for female liberation and artistic expression.