I'm not sure what to expect from Maria Giulia Maramotti, one the heiresses to the MaxMara throne (she's the U.S. director of retail for the Italian brand and the granddaughter of the founder). We're scheduled to meet at the Beverly Hills Hotel's posh Polo Lounge for breakfast, just days before the Women in Film Crystal & Lucy Awards, which MaxMara sponsors. A fancy location to meet a fancy sounding person, I think. Only Maramotti is completely disarming in person. She's charming and open and more than game to discuss her seven tattoos (which she initially hid from her mom), her serious devotion to Keith Richards (one of her tats spells out "Gimme Shelter") and how she wants to change the perception of MaxMara ("it can be a little more young and funky").
Maramotti, who is also MaxMara's global ambassador, is wearing a leather Balenciaga biker jacket with her red MaxMara skirt, which should help "funk" up MaxMara's ladylike image. This is a brand known for great camel coats and slim pencil skirts, after all. Maramotti's seven tattoos are mostly covered up, but she lifts up her t-shirt sleeve to show me the gun inked on her bicep–it’s a replica of one of Richard's own tattoos (this girl means it when she says she loves Keith Richards).
Most fashion brands have a personality attached to them--just try to think of Chanel without conjuring up an image of Karl Lagerfeld. But MaxMara is different. When Style.com reviews MaxMara shows, a "design team" is credited rather than one person. Enter Maramotti, who, since joining the family biz in 2008, is being put forward as the brand's "face." Kind of like how Margherita Missoni has become the face of the Missoni label--only Maramotti doesn't see many similarities. "I adore Margherita Missoni and really think she's a style icon," she says. "I don't feel myself as an it-girl."
For Maramotti, being a brand ambassador is about being involved in what she calls the "backstage" of the brand. That includes creating a Twitter account not just for MaxMara's official label, but for herself, so the brand can be seen as accessible to younger generations. Maramotti is just 29.
"MaxMara has always been known as a very grown up brand," Maramotti says. "I think lately the design team wants, not to lose its DNA, but to give it this fashion twist, to have this younger generation representing MaxMara." To that end, MaxMara has sponsored younger more scene-y events like this year's Whitney Art Party, and roped in a number of young, decidedly it-girl brand ambassadors including Hannah Bronfman, Natalie Joos, Byrdie Bell, Lauren Remington Platt and Harley Viera Newton to wear its clothes when they're out and about. This fleet of influencers communicates how they feel about MaxMara via social media of course (combined these girls reach an impressive audience) but also through good old fashioned word of mouth. "I'm a fan of the brand and I think that word of mouth is really important in fashion because we're so used to seeing images," Bell tells me. "So to hear something from someone, how they feel about a certain item of clothing, it resonates."
And at the Women in Film awards last month, every one of MaxMara's style ambassadors looked comfortable in her dress. That’s also the point--that even though Bronfman's style varies from Remington Platt's, they can both wear MaxMara and make it their own. “You don’t necessarily need to be perfectly classic to wear MaxMara,” Maramotti says. “Yes, the dress is important but woman who wears the dress is more important.”