Why an Iconic Museum Inspired Max Mara's Architectural New Bag

Why an Iconic Museum Inspired Max Mara's Architectural New Bag
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Max Mara's fall 2015 collection may have been inspired by Marilyn Monroe, but the Italian house now has its eyes set on a very different kind of icon: the Whitney Museum.

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Last night, hoards of New York's fashion obsessed packed into the Top of the Standard penthouse lounge to celebrate the Max Mara Whitney bag, a collaboration with architecture firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which designed the Whitney Museum's colossal new downtown location.

"It was a complete meeting of the minds and it was literally a collaboration between two Italian brands that believe in high quality design," Ian Griffiths, Max Mara creative director, told InStyle at the event. "That's why we say it's a once in a generation opportunity. It may never happen again that two brands meet so completely."

The bag, which features handsome ribbed leather panels and a structured top handle, mirrors the steel beams and brass plates of the museum's new building. And while Griffiths' own architectural background had him sourcing blueprints as inspiration, art also undoubtedly came into play.

"The artistic life of New York is a big influence in our pre-fall collection, inspired by the memories of '70s and '80s downtown Manhattan, by artists and rock stars and writers and designers who all hung out and rubbed shoulders at clubs," Griffiths said. "I was so moved by seeing works by Donald Judd, the minimalist '70s architect, that completely sums up what I feel fashion is about now—individuality."

Griffiths hopes the bag will become an icon in its own right (think Hermes's Birkin and Fendi's Baguette) 20 years from now. And if sales---the proceeds of which will benefit the Renzo Piano Foundation---are any indication, it's well on its way. The limited-edition gray version is sold out, while black, tan, and bordeaux iterations will become available May 1st, the official date of the museum's opening.

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