MFW: Questions Of Nature At Sportmax

Spurring existentialist questions about our priorities in the face of rapid advancement, Sportmax lets ideas flourish
Sportmax Spring/Summer 2024 Show / Images courtesy of Sportmax

For Spring/Summer 2024, Sportmax presents us with some food for thought, particularly pertaining to our changing relationship with nature in an increasingly digital world.

Often referred to as Max Mara’s edgier little sister, we’re used to seeing a more sultry spin on classic Italian sensibility. But for this season, slick party clothes were replaced by a more curious interpretation of the brand’s sartorial offering. After more than fifty years heading up the design at the Italian fashion house, Grazia Malagoli pushes the brand conceptually further, leaning into the ideas that inspire how we dress, as opposed to simple aesthetics.

Presenting the latest collection as part of Milan Fashion Week, the setting reflected the meta inspiration, featuring artworks of electronic waste with nature physically overriding circuits. Though it spoke to existentialist ideas about our priorities in the face of rapid advancement, the clothes didn’t capture this literal interplay between nature and technology but rather posed a question of fashion’s response. What happens when we strip it all back? What will clothes look like when we have left no stone unturned? How will fashion fare when our algorithm-driven minds are so quick to be “hypnotised by the mundane while losing touch with the mystical,” as per the show notes?

White was showcased in a range of nuanced forms, textures and shades—from optical to vanilla—while accents of acid and pale aquatic hues crept into the collection. Some looks were reminiscent of the kind of futuristic armour we’d see in Bladerunner, while others felt more intrinsically tied to nature. Exaggerated silhouettes were a fun twist, as were the sheer details and asymmetry. The prints were direct photographic borrowings from the installations of the Czech artist Krištof Kintera, whose ‘Postnaturalia’ works serve as a dystopian re-imagining of a botanical ‘Herbarium’ with flowers made out of electronic waste.

Ultimately, the collection puts forward a collection fit for the modern day that doesn’t ignore what’s going on outside of the runway. If, at times, it seemed confused, that’s only because of the imbalance of the concepts it tries to lay out for us, holding up a mirror to the impossible duality of humanity where we crave the beauty and awe of the natural world, but actively work against it for our own convenience.

This article originally appeared on Grazia International