Max Mara strikes a note of functional elegance

COLLEEN BARRY Associated Press Published:

MILAN (AP) -- The German Bauhaus design school gave the world functional yet elegant design in both everyday objects like chairs and teapots to living and working spaces. On the runway in Milan, Max Mara struck the same note of functional elegance in its Bauhaus-inspired womenswear show.

The collection for next winter, presented Thursday on the second day of Milan Fashion Week, was, fittingly, highly structured.

The coats alone were a feat of layered and textural complexity. A hooded overcoat, worn open over the shoulders with empty sleeves hanging, accompanied another interior jacket with a nubby texture.

Often, the overcoat sleeves were rolled up to reveal another layer of, say, spandex, which contrasted with the satiny coat lining. Leather patches emphasized rounded shoulders.

Max Mara's heritage of practical luxury was highlighted by its focus on new camel fabrics for their coats, including spun alpaca and mouflon wool. From super-functional camel, the color palette then progressed to a deep yellow and onward to decidedly urban shades of gray, black and midnight blue -- a nod to the Bauhaus inspiration.

Max Mara has studied ways to create volume, using both materials and sewing techniques. Form-fitting spandex dresses had draping folds that imbued the pieces with movement.

The silhouette ranged from skinny pencil skirts paired with long sweaters for the office or loose-fitting pajama pants for relaxed afternoons. Shoes emphasized comfort -- sneakers -- but were built from luxury materials like suede and leather. Boston bags were made from leather and crocodile prints.