Sunset in the lush of sub-tropical gardens of the world class Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon; the time and place of Max Mara's Resort 2023 show.
There is a painting by the artist Nikias Skapinakis showing the intellectual, poet and social activist Natália Correia with two other women seating reverentially at her feet. It is the starting point for a collection which revives the spirit of this remarkable woman and celebrates her contribution to Portuguese artistic, cultural and political life in the eventful mid-twentieth century. Just as Max Mara has formulated its own brand of feminism, so did Correia. Counter to the politically correct format of the movement, she argued for sensuality and passionate femininity. Correia's 'Antologia de Poesia Portuguesa Erótica e Satírica' was considered outré by the authorities against whom she campaigned; to Max Mara it suggests a more voluptuous, curvier silhouette with an occassional nod to the gathered skirts of traditional dress. Max Mara presents below-the-knee sexy, sultry sheaths that are perfect for parties, like the highbrow soirées at which Correia was photographed. And of course for almost every gown, there will be a trademark coat to wear it with.
Correia enjoyed a place right at the heart of Lisbon society. Back to the Skapinakis' picture; the women depicted at Correia's feet are fellow novelist and poet Fernanda Botelho and renowned classical pianist Maria João Pires. Correia's home, and the watering hole she herself founded, Bar Botequim, were a stage for international friends such as Henry Miller, Graham Greene and Eugène Ionesco, and Portuguese legends like Amália's penchant for plissé. Crunchy degradè pleated silk taffetà is the perfect medium for a dramatic gesture that goes from day to night; wether it's a floor sweeping bustuer or a corona bursting from beneath the hem of a pencil skirt. Fado, the music of love and longing, reminds us that Natália Correia's smouldering charisma was absolutely in tune with the Portuguese psyche.
Lenços de namorados do Minho, are another Portuguese romantic tradition, especially of the Minho region, symbol of a conquest ritual: the 'handkerchiefs of love' represent the most genuine poetic and artistic form used by girls of marriageable age who embroidered a square of linen or of cotton, with messages and symbols of love, to win heart of their beloved. Lenços de namorados do Minho is a handcrafted product certified by Adere Certifica with a Registered Trademark and a Geographical Indication belonging to Adere-Minho.
Heart, flowers and doves rendered in the siphisticated naïf style of the Lenços de namorados figure in Max Mara's prints and dressy crystal brooches.
Working with local artisans, Max Mara has created T-shirts inspired by the motifs of the traditional Lenços de namorados do Minho carrying Max Mara own lines of love, which, in accordance with custom begins with a heartfelt entreaty for the missive to reach the object of the sender's affections. Resort 2023 will deliver Max Mara's message of passion and power; 'Vai lenço feliz'.