Formed during World War I and mobilized anew for World War II, the Women’s Land Army recruited up to 80,000 females to farm while Britain’s men took up arms. Along with the women working in munitions factories, as nurses, in auxiliary military service, as air raid wardens, and in many other vital non-combatant roles besides, the so-called Land Girls were a vital part of the war effort. By fortunate necessity they also in part catalyzed the emancipatory precedent for women to take their place in the workforce.
The Women’s Land Army proved a fertile source of inspiration for Ian Griffiths at Max Mara this morning. The collection that flourished from it was cultivated rather than rustic—more Phoebe Waller-Bridge channeling Monty Don shot by Sam Mendes at Sissinghurst and less tilling for beetroot—but it contained many authentically researched touches while also working wonderfully as a luxuriously utilitarian woman’s wardrobe for now.
Bill Cunningham bleu de travail in various garment-dyed shades of cotton was applied to long Don-style work jackets, backless narrow-cut apron-front pencil dresses, double-kneed narrow-cut work pants, and bellows-pocketed and epauletted shirt-skirts and overalls. The palette pivoted to rosy pinks as Griffths pruned his hemlines high with patch-pocketed hot pants under a tunic and a romper. Gorgeous leather-edged canvas gardening bags and bridle-leather binocular cases were tucked under the arms of high-waisted green blousons and washed cotton wide-lapel varieties of Max Mara’s heritage-specialism coat. A wide-gauge knit jersey in green featured irregular cotton patches on one shoulder and the opposite arm in tribute to the source-era’s make-do-and-mend ethos.
A highish-hem fishtail parka over wide-cuffed shirt signaled the switch towards more autumnal shades, and the inevitable harvest of core-to-the-house camel. The hotpants and work jackets we’d seen earlier were iterated as knits, and the camel coat in a generously-volumed satin finished fabric. Jodhpur pants, a parachute-strapped corset and what looked like a Pacific-theater US officer’s tunic rather widened the scope of operations before a series of monochrome chintz looks closed this bountiful Max Mara show. Idealized 1940’s Ipswich by way of Emilia Romagna, this classy collection was clearly close to Griffiths’s gardener’s heart.
This article was originally published on Vogue Runway.
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