Patricia Urquiola on her rule-breaking capsule collection for Weekend Max Mara
Oct. 6, 2022
When Patricia Urquiola – the Spanish multi-hyphenate whose eponymous Milan-based studio spans product, industrial and furniture design, as well as architecture and art direction – got to the point of showing her capsule clothing collection for Weekend Max Mara last February, she decided to break with tradition. Until then, the Italian fashion label had always presented its collections in its own Milanese showroom; instead, Urquiola chose the headquarters of rug manufacturer CC-Tapis, a label with which she has long collaborated. ‘Sometimes you just have to change the rules,’ she says.
The collaboration itself marked a first for Urquiola. Despite having forged strong connections with the fashion industry throughout her career (she has worked on projects for Missoni, Salvatore Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton, and had a close working relationship with the late Virgil Abloh), this is the first clothing collection she has created. (Urquiola, though, is insistent it is not a ‘collection’ but ‘just a capsule’, ‘then you are braver and you don’t think about the responsibility,’ she says.)
It arrives as part of Weekend Max Mara’s Signature line, an ongoing project whereby various international creatives are drafted in each season to create a collection that fuses their own approach with the label’s heritage. Previous collaborators have included model Alek Wek, costume designer Gabriella Pescucci, interior designer Anthony Baratta, and artists Richard Saja and Donald Robertson. Urquiola is the tenth participant.
The collaboration is an expansion of Urquiola’s comprehensive previous work with textiles that is defined by a broad if sometimes unconventional use of colour. She had always been aware of Weekend Max Mara – ‘I’m a woman, I live in Milan,’ she says with a smile – and says the appeal of this project was its allowance for working across disciplines with freedom, an unrestrained approach that she has long championed in her own work. ‘They described to me this idea that, through Weekend Max Mara, they wanted to share more and more conversations with people who are not from their world, to get the energy of colour, of having another approach to the work. They were really insistent on that.’
The capsule is titled Habito, a Spanish word that Urquiola explains means both ‘habit’ and ‘to inhabit’. ‘I approached [the capsule] not only as a designer but as a woman,’ she explains, noting that each item of clothing, which often features hybrid elements, is designed to reflect the needs and contradictions of everyday life. ‘I think the clothes that women wear are an emotional habit, they are the tools we need for living.’ That said, Urquiola notes that she was ‘not searching for a woman’s silhouette’, instead designing garments that felt stripped of traditionally gendered elements to create a reflection of the way she dresses day to day (often, she says, this emerges in the use of oversized, cocooning silhouettes).
The capsule began in Max Mara’s archive, a place Urquiola was keen to explore at the start of the project. ‘They had all the pieces from the first collections, from the 1980s, and out of this came the dimensions, the oversized shapes, they were the volumes we were looking for,’ she says. As such, the collection comprises a series of coats – ‘coats are the most representative [pieces in the collection], the most hybrid ones’ – in variously amplified proportions, combining playfully juxtaposed fabrics (in particular, heritage wools and ribbed knits with technical nylon). Other elements include a vividly coloured gilet, reminiscent of her colourful CC-Tapis rugs that formed the backdrop of the presentation, giant clasp-top clutch handbags (a version of the house’s ‘Pasticcino’ bag), and shirting with expansive plissé sleeves.
Urquiola believes that now is the time for such experimentation, ‘to do capsules, to put yourself in new situations, to give new voices to companies,’ she says, noting this approach was in part inspired by watching Abloh work so broadly across design disciplines. ‘This project with Weekend Max Mara was about mixing our ideas, a playful moment where you interact with different worlds, and other points of view. I came out of my comfort zone,’ she says. ‘Which is always a good thing.’