This season, some really delightful looks appeared on the Max Mara runway. Backstage, Ian Griffiths presided over a moodboard pinned with images of the work of Sophie Taeuber-Arp, who was closely affiliated with the Dada movement. Taeuber-Arp is currently the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York showcasing a prodigious career that spanned genres: textiles, marionettes, interior and architectural designs, furniture, paintings, relief sculptures, and photographs. Griffiths said he was attracted by the way she invested even everyday objects with magic and mystery. “After the last two years, we’re craving magic,” he said. Active between the two World Wars, the Dadaists rejected nationalism and violence, which made her an all too apt muse on a day when Russia attacked Ukraine. Griffiths used the shapes of marionettes Taeuber-Arp made for a restaging of the 18th century play “The King Stag” as templates for his designs; they informed the bulbous silhouettes of short skirts and the articulated arms of sweaters. Whimsy was the desired effect of the teddy bear material, which he cut not just into oversized enveloping coats, but also full skirts both short and long, and even sweatpants. These pieces were juxtaposed by others with a more utilitarian bent. Parachute pants with zips up the calves had a smart adaptability; add a second-skin turtleneck and a tailored jacket and a woman would be ready for anything. All this marched out on gum-soled over-the-knee sock boots, which got the playful/practical balance that Griffiths was after exactly right.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.