“I’ve been described as the most influential designer you’ve never heard of,” Ian Griffiths , Creative Director of Max Mara for 31 years told Harper’s Bazaar Australia in an interview published online December 9. Griffiths’ anonymity was about to be blown, when US House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — soon to be Madame Speaker again — wore her 2013 brick red Max Mara coat to a December 11 budget-funding showdown at the White House.
Hours later, Pelosi and her ‘Fire Coat’ were total bad-ass legend as big names clamored to know where to buy her coat. Griffiths stepped out of the shadows to talk his vision for confident, powerful women to Pelosi’s posse. His comments in the Harper’s interview echo the sentiments he expressed in announcing that Pelosi’s coat was headed back to stores in the next collection.
On December 4, Griffiths further defined the Max Mara woman as “successful. She’s made it on her own terms and she wants to be taken seriously.” Those words certainly describe Nancy Pelosi. The designer talked with Town & Country about Max Mara’s collab with Judy Chicago, and their release of a tee shirt to promote the artist’s major retrospective at the ICA Miami.
“As a long standing feminist artist who has found a powerful voice, Judy is the ideal partner for Max Mara—the collaboration is a reminder that classic does not mean conservative.”
One of her seminal pieces, ‘Bigamy Hood’, a painted car hood, served as inspiration for the t-shirt collab with Max Mara. Chicago described the collaboration as “an exciting challenge that required a considerable amount of time, creativity, and drawings.” The resulting design is what Griffiths calls “iconic Judy Chicago” but in a “classic Max Mara palette,” meaning a wearable, but still playfully radical t-shirt. “It underlines the brand’s commitment to the empowerment of women,” Griffiths says.