MM and MM! Marilyn Monroe does Max Mara! Really? A fashion house known for sturdy coats and sensible working-woman apparel took on cinema’s blonde bombshell with a swelling bust line?
Believe it or not, the strategy worked. The creative team behind Max Mara took as inspiration the famous George Barris pictures of Marilyn on the beach in 1962, the year she died. The most legendary is the movie star’s soft, cream body swaddled in a Norwegian cardigan.
The Autumn/Winter 2015 version left out the nudity and seduction, but it kept the seashore setting with a digital screen of crashing waves. And once the range of big, wraparound coats came off, the models were clearly wearing the pointy bras of the uplift era.
I usually groan at the idea of a theme to pull disparate clothes together. But this one was credible because Max Mara coats are in the master class, falling straight at the back and fuller at the front. When the iconic camel hair version came out, the model pouting, her hair a little less windblown than Marilyn’s, it told the story beautifully.
There were other references, too: the slim skirt and fitted sweater (bra included) that we now associate with the Mad Men television series.
Quilted pieces gave a strategic suggestion of the bed-and-beyond life of Marilyn’s love affairs, but would the star who claimed “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world” really have worn brogues with tassels? They may not seem as likely as Ferragamo’s famous stiletto-heeled court shoes with Marilyn’s footprint still on the inside (currently on display at the “Killer Heels” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum), but the Max Mara story line was all the better for making it real for 2015.