As the U.S. director of retail for Max Mara, 32-year-old Maria Giulia Maramotti faces the challenge of bringing a new energy to her family's 65-yearold Italian luxury house. Making the label appealing and accessible to a new generation requires not only strong business and marketing savvy, but also the will to colour outside conventional lines. The Maramotti family's history includes a strong dedication to the arts – Maria Giulia's grandfather Achille, who founded the company, was an avid collector of contemporary art – and Max Mara has proudly sponsored a variety of art-focused awards and events including The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery's upcoming annual Power Ball gala. I spoke with the jet-setting Maramotti, who is a global ambassador for the upscale brand, from San Francisco about her family's passion, her commitment to authenticity, and the lasting gift that her grandfather gave her.
It's exciting to see how you're bringing Max Mara into a new market with a younger kind of energy. Was that your mission when you decided to join the company?
As a brand, we really never changed our core values of attention to quality of the product and the quality of the conception of the collection itself, but it was really important to me to attract a consumer that is a little bit more contemporary. Women are now exposed to every different opportunity of purchasing clothing everywhere, but I think that ultimately what they want – and what really is the new idea of luxury – is to have quality pieces that are comfortable and they're able to adapt to their lifestyles. In a sense, it doesn't really matter how old you are.
It matters more what your style is and what you do. It was important to me to bring this message to women of all ages because that wasn't necessarily the case five years ago.
There are increasingly so many synergies between art and fashion. How do you feel about the artistic side of the way we dress and the way we present ourselves to the world?
That's a very contemporary question.
The way I've seen fashion since I was very young, and by looking at the history of fashion, I think that fashion is ultimately the quintessential way of depicting our lifestyle. What fashion should be doing is interpreting lifestyles. We have to make sure that whatever is conceived as a garment is reflecting what women's lifestyle is.
The arts have always been important to your family – your grandfather was a great collector. But why is that still important to you, to be sponsoring parties at artistic venues for example?
It was something that was very organic for us as a brand. If you look at our history, back in the nineties for example, [photographer] William Wegman's "Dogs in Coats" series toured Max Mara boutiques across America.
[There's also] the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, which we have been doing for the past 12 years. Our presence within the art world has meant a lot. Art has always been something important and integrated within the brand because it's part of what we are; it's part of our legacy and it's a true passion. We love art so much that we really want to partner with institutions that have the same mission in supporting art. That's the reason why we picked the Power Plant. It was a natural consequence of what our core values and DNA are.
Your grandfather's wonderful art collection, Collezione Maramotti, is on permanent public display. Tell me about where the collection is based.
It's actually in the old factories of Max Mara in Reggio Emilia. We wanted to create a space to celebrate art and to open it to the public for free because we really want it to be exposed to as many people as possible.
My grandfather's dream was to share with other people the beauty and the elevation in spirit that something like contemporary art, or art in general, brings.
What was the most important thing that you learned from your grandfather?
The biggest gift that my grandfather gave to me was the sense of family, not only when it comes to my own family, but also the sense of family when it comes to managing a business. People really are the game changer. And to put in effort and love – that's the bottom line. Max Mara is 65 years old this year, so it's a big anniversary for us. But ultimately what really sets us apart is love for what we do. Because that is something that is not only about people that are in the family, but also about people that have been working with us for 50 years and more. It's an incredible feeling. And my grandfather was like that. Obviously you have to be business savvy but at the end of the day, the integrity that comes from having those values set in stone – well, they're timeless. That was the biggest lesson I learned from him. And every time I go to work, it's to make him