Max Mara’s iconic coat.
Max Mara’s 101801 is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and in honour of the occasion, we’re looking back at the history of this exceptional coat.
First and foremost, it’s about the cut. Double-breasted, with a beltcinched waist and perfectly draped kimono-style sleeves, the 101801 coat is incredibly flattering and has remained unchanged since it was first created in 1981. It’s also about the colour (a warm camel brown that you can pick out in a sea of beige) and the material (an undeniably soft felt made from a blend of wool and cashmere). But above all, it’s the iconic nature of the piece, baptized not with a name but with a number.
When Italian fashion entrepreneur Achille Maramotti launched Max Mara in 1951, the aim of the brand was to provide both functionality and beauty by combining artisanal luxury and new ready-to-wear-fashion techniques. This ambition gave birth to high-quality, well-fitted clothing that cost less to produce than tailor-made pieces. The customer Maramotti had in mind was the well-to-do upper-middle-class woman on the hunt for new styles— “the doctor’s wife,” he liked to say. Thirty years later, Maramotti presented a coat that would become emblematic of the Italian house: the 101801. It required 73 steps—and precisely 168 minutes—to make, from cutting the material to hand-finishing. Behind this cornerstone creation were the pencil strokes of French designer Anne-Marie Beretta. This “fashion architect” contributed her talent as well as her vision to the label, as other couturiers would do in the years that followed, their identities staying carefully guarded for the most part—think Karl Lagerfeld, Giambattista Valli and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. But for Max Mara, the clothes—and teamwork—have always come first.
THE REBIRTH OF A CLASSIC
Max Mara’s fall/winter 2021/2022 collection, shown in February, marked its 70th anniversary. To celebrate, creative director Ian Griffiths, who has been with the brand for more than three decades, paid homage to the house’s signature piece with a presentation of perfectly tailored coats. There’s the Teddy Bear, whose popularity has boomed since its launch in the fall/winter 2013/2014 collection. The 101801 also appeared on the runway for the occasion, of course, in its original and oh-so-recognizable camel colour—despite the variety of shades that are now available. Without any form of excess, Max Mara relies on its triedand-true designs and the elegance of timeless pieces that are still in demand 40 years later.