Why the man behind Max Mara is the most influential fashion designer you’ve never heard of

The brand Max Mara conjures an image of camel coats and conservative northern Italian style, and Ian Griffiths, its designer for three decades, is not what you might expect.
The man sitting opposite me is the most influential British designer you have never heard of.
With annual sales reported to be more than £1bn, Max Mara is that rare thing, a fashion-week label whose heart is in the real world.
For six decades, Max Mara did not have a public-facing designer – a unique move in the gladiatorial arena that is Milan fashion week, where Donatella Versace, Giorgio Armani, and Dolce & Gabbana are all represented by personalities as well as brands.
And then in February last year, Griffiths cast Halima Aden in his catwalk show, making Max Mara’s the first Milan show to feature a headscarf-wearing model. 

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