Meet Ferragamo’s New Creative Director Maximilian Davis

For Maximilian Davis, fashion isn’t just a career choice—it’s part of his family legacy. In a tight-knit Trinidadian/Jamaican household, Maximilian Davis grew up in Manchester. His mother and sister modeled and his father studied fashion designing. When he was 6, his grandmother taught him to sew on her industrial machine, which he used to design unique clothes—including a pair of trousers repurposed from a sweater. Davis was still high school and apprenticed to the tailor who dressed Davis’ mother. “I was always surrounded by people that were constantly creating,” he says.

It was this foundation that Davis, 27 years old, was appointed as creative director for Salvatore Ferragamo. The 95-year-old Italian luxury fashion label is well-known for its shoes, leather goods, and other products. A rising star in design was appointed to the position, marking a brand new chapter and a significant change for the industry. “I feel honored that people want to see what I could do for such a respected brand with a great heritage,” he tells TIME in his first interview since taking the helm at Ferragamo. “I want to bring a new energy that’s really fresh.”

Davis’ reputation has only grown since he graduated from the London College of Fashion in 2017 and started working as a junior designer with menswear designer Grace Wales Bonner. Under the influence incubator Fashion East in 2020, Davis launched Maximilian his label. He soon had Rihanna as well as Dua Lipa.

Davis hasn’t yet debuted his first collection for Ferragamo, but the four collections he’s released for his personal brand offer a look at his burgeoning design sensibility. Sharp tailoring and bold silhouettes are hallmarks of his work, as well as richly-textured fabrics. All this is done with elegant sensuality. These are reflected in exquisitely tailored suits, sleek leather dresses and luxury jersey bodysuits. He sums up his vision as “Black elegance,” and it’s clear he finds power in celebrating his culture and identity through his designs. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 epidemic and the summer of reckoning against systemic racism, his first collection was released for his own label in fall 2020. Inspired by Trinidad’s Carnival and its joyous celebration of freedom (which held even more significance for Trinidadians following the emancipation of slaves in 1838), Davis sought to present a thoughtful narrative about Blackness: “It was a collection that had a different outlook on people of color,” he says. “I wanted to present them in a very elegant and sophisticated way, rather than this negative context.”

The majority of his work was also inspired by his extended family. Past collections have paid homage to his grandmother’s “Sunday best” looks for church, family trips to Trinidad, and patterns of migration. During his research-heavy design process, he often thinks of his sisters as well as the elders in his life, ensuring that there are pieces that speak to both younger and older generations.“I think the best collections are the personal ones where people can feel a part of the story,” he says. “If they can relate to something, it always translates.”

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