Last December, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi triumphantly emerged from the White House following a contentious televised meeting with Donald Trump on border wall funding, with shades and a winning smirk on — but also, a burnt orange funnel-collared coat, thrown on like a victor’s cloak. Instantly, the piece sparked social media alight with viral elation.
In a series of tweets, ‘Moonlight’ director Barry Jenkins opined on the coat, noting what its “asymmetrical front to the high collar, the strong yet unstrained shoulder and, of course, that colour — a deeply serenely yet emphatic and ravishing colour” were saying against “the supposed impotence of fashion.” Throngs of American women wanted to know where the emblematic outerwear was from, and whether they could get one.
As it turned out, Pelosi’s coat was Max Mara, part of the Italian brand’s 2013 collection. Creative director Ian Griffiths dubbed it as “the fire coat”, waxing lyrical of the outerwear in a press statement released not long after Pelosi’s outing: “So whilst the body is soft, the shoulders give it structure. That contrast between masculine and feminine gives it modernity… They represent lasting values, they project personal strength and glamour.”
Griffiths continued to hone in on the politics of glamour for his Max Mara Fall/Winter ’19 collection last week, revisiting the rhapsodised esprit of empowerment Pelosi’s coat incited just two months prior. Staged within the brutalist confines of Università Bocconi — an acclaimed economic school where women make up more than 50 percent of its students — shoulders swayed in large and defined, undaunted in its pronounced boxiness. Polished workwear ensembles came flushed in head-to-toe tonal hues — opaque cerulean, corn yellow as well as neutrals in camel brown and lustrous black — a persistence of asserted optimism. Impeccable tailoring — slick pocket-studded vests, cargo skirts, utilitarian ponchos — came jauntily paired with taut faux croc leather thigh-high boots, moulding function into form.
“This is diplomacy in motion, soft power wielded like a machete through the diligent, decisive act of dressing,” said Jenkins in another one of his sharp tweets on Pelosi’s forerunning coat, which proved to be a prescient encapsulation of its Fall/Winter ’19 progeny. These are never meant to be just clothes.
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