Max Mara’s Venice show had Kate Hudson, the Hiltons and a Grand Palazzo

It’s officially the end of the cruise 2025 season, which means the end of this season’s blockbuster catwalk-show circuit. Over the last few weeks, fashion houses from Dior to Louis Vuitton presented their collections in stunning locations around the world, like Scotland and Barcelona — and on Tuesday evening, Max Mara joined the party with a show in Venice, Italy.

Venice is a trippy place to visit. The Northern Italian city is situated in the middle of a lagoon, packed with tourists, and dotted with artifice. Walk-up windows tout great pizza that is anything but. Little shops advertise Murano glass that’s actually made in China. Roller suitcases click and clack up and down the steps of the bridges while a traffic jam of gondolas drifts below.

But then you dart into a narrow pathway, and boom — quiet. There’s a tiny baroque-style trattoria, a printshop closed for nap hour, and a jewellery store where a woman sits at a work table, sifting through a pile of coloured glass to find the right shade for her next handblown ring.

max mara resort 2025

That’s where the magic of Venice comes alive — in those barely sunlit crevices where you can look up and around and truly notice the romance of the city, which was originally cultivated by the artists and merchants who settled there during the 13th century, when it became the West’s first international centre of finance. In some ways, it’s where the modern idea of luxury was invented.

Venice is strange because it straddles two worlds: one that is current, chaotic, and a little fake; and another that feels exotic, timeless, and rich. More than ever right now, luxury fashion straddles two worlds as well: one overflowing with logo-heavy, way-too-high-priced products; and another that feels softer, more singular, where everything is unequivocally desirable.

max mara resort 2025

Max Mara has always been planted firmly in that latter universe. The brand has never leaned heavily on novelty items, nor entered into the game of creative-director musical chairs. (Its creative director, Ian Griffiths, has been designing the women’s ready-to-wear collections for over 30 years.) Max Mara’s global clientele is loyal, and the company is still owned and operated by the Maramotti family, who founded it in 1951. Heritage and craft have been at the heart of this Italian house since the beginning, and the Maramottis have never lost sight of that DNA or muddied it with Gen Z–specific marketing, even if the label has a solid group of influencers supporting it. One just has to look at the recent rise in popularity of Max Mara’s Atelier coats — which are getting millions of views on TikTok — to understand the brand’s hold on people.

For Tuesday’s show, the brand invited the likes of Kate Hudson, Kathy and Paris Hilton , Yara Shahidi, and Brie Larson to a covered balcony in the Palazzo Ducale, overlooking the Piazza San Marco and sitting next to the Grand Canal. Stepping inside the Gothic building, guests were greeted by dizzying frescoes adorning the ceilings and the most beautiful terrazzo floors beneath our feet. It was the first time anyone had been allowed to stage a fashion show in the Doge’s Palace.

For this collection, Griffiths was inspired by the trading adventures of Marco Polo and the meeting of Eastern and Western cultures in Venice. It was a nod to the opulence of the Byzantine jacquards and mosaics sold during that time, but done in a way that didn’t scream “RICH PEOPLE!” at you. Instead, the brand offered up a more low-key and, frankly, chicer approach to dressing like royalty. It all felt considered and true to the house, rather than thematic.

Silk shirting and shorts were adorned with tassel belts, while collared button-downs and tight sweaters telegraphed a sense of ease when styled with a pair of pannier-style pants. A low V-neck monastic maxi dress in teddy-bear brown felt like something you might see a Venetian wearing today — the kind of woman who wears no make-up, has a gold bauble ring on every finger, and owns one of the IYKYK textile shops. Griffiths played with shapes on intarsia knits, and there were touches of velvets and patterns that recalled those made famous by the local fabric legend Fortuny. Several coats in the collection were part of the latest offering from Atelier, which is designed by the company’s fashion co-ordinator, Laura Lusuardi, who has worked at Max Mara since the 1960s.

Earlier in the day, at a private preview of the new Atelier collection inside the Carlo Scarpa-designed Olivetti Showroom, Lusuardi — who speaks only in Italian and has a powerful but enchanting stare — was dressed in a divine grey origami shirt, matching trousers, classic brown driver shoes, and vintage jewellery. She went through the intricate details of each of the 15 coats and spoke sincerely about the importance of timeless design and artisan craft. At one point, she asked her translator to close the door to the showroom space, which sits on the bustling piazza, because a group of young women was chatting loudly outside. “Blah, blah, blah, blah,” Lusuardi said, smirking. The door closed, and the noise of Venice all but vanished. It was just us and those perfect coats, and it hit me again that even in a tricky fashion landscape, deep in the heart of a weird, spectacular, too-crowded but insanely beautiful city, Max Mara is the real deal.

You Might Also Like