The Italians think of MaxMara not as a fashion label, but high-end sportswear - something which should always be remembered when watching one of their shows. This isn't about fashion per se, but about style, and certainly about reinventing the sartorial wheel season after season. For S/S 2010, MaxMara looked to the plains of Africa - not really original stomping-ground, as half-a-dozen of Milan's finest seem to have that snap of Veruschka in her YSL Safari suit pinned up as inspiration. That said, MaxMara's interpretations were some of the most polished, coloured in the bleached, chalky palette of the Veldt (burnt umber, sand, ochre and bronze) combined with classic black and navy. Shoulders dropped into roomy dolman sleeves to provide upper body width without hard pads, drawn in at the waist and fitted over the hips. This draped sleeve looked fantastic in lightweight wool, likewise on tent-shaped knee-length dresses with billowing backs, patched with cargo pockets and epaulettes. It was the subtle, masterful tailoring kept all that billowing fabric in check, and if the upper was broad, the skirts and trousers generally kept a slim, long line - the notable exceptions being a trio of rather disturbing plissé culottes. These were part of a mercifully short evening segment of dodgy accordion-pleat silk that didn't gel, twisted into billowing halterneck dresses or slipped over hackneyed little lingerie slips. Luckily, it was easy to lay them to one side as MaxMara's abortive foray into 'fashion' and instead appreciate the label's consummate nailing of style.
MaxMara looked to the plains of Africa - not really original stomping-ground.