Prêt-à-Porter Paris might be best known for the catwalk shows of France’s foremost fashion houses. But take a look beyond the couture spectacle at the Grand Palais and you will be rewarded with a glimpse of promising talents like designer Masha Ma
This is the second time Masha Ma shows her eponymous collection as part of Prêt-à-Porter Paris. Nowhere near as opulent as Chanel or Vuitton’s couture outings, she stages her clothes in the long, narrow gallery of the Théatre National de Chaillot to four packed rows of fashion-savvy invitees. On location, it is the sheer lightness of her creations that sways the audience; Ma approaches shapes and cuts in a playful way, advancing fashion with a refreshing sense of unbiased clarity.
Born in China and educated at London’s renowned Central Saint Martins College, a hotbed of talents that previously gave rise to Hussein Chalayan, Zac Posen and Alexander McQueen, Ma has been living in London for more than a decade and appears to follow in McQueen’s footsteps with her expressive collections.
Debuting at London Fashion Week with her graduate collection in 2008, she switched to Paris after three seasons. Why the move? After the show, the designer replies. “On the one hand, it might seem strange, but to me it was a very natural step. My label’s PR was already based in Paris. And then there is the overall mood and style. While London is cool, cheeky and fun, the Masha Ma woman is chic, strong, modern and feminine. Those are the women I encounter in the streets of Paris.”
And those are the four adjectives she keeps repeating when asked by camera teams about the essential style of Masha Ma. This afternoon, the Chinese press is out in full force, while mentions in VOGUE, AnOther Magazine and ELLE have already put the designer on the fashion map of those in the know.
Her take on a modern, feminine silhouette relies on an interplay of distinctive proportions. “For this collection I was aiming for a very narrow upper body with these skin-tight, body-like tops, making the overall look clean and chic. At the same time, frills in the lower half deliberately mix up the proportions.”
Her current colour palette takes inspiration from the rich shades of Siamese fighting fish, a large-finned species native to the Chinese Sea that is prone to intense bouts of fighting. From this colourful chaos Ma culls a range of bright tones: royal blue meets plenty of white and aqua shades, silver and gold sequins accentuate the sleeves’ seams, floor-length skirts reveal a touch of bronze and the fish scale print hints at the collection’s unusual inspiration.
At the same time, Masha Ma’s sculptural work of art does not end at the hemline, but continues in a range of futurist, almost 8-inch high heels. “The shoes are the result of my first collaboration with United Nude. The shoe label’s founder and architect Rem Koolhaas loves to support young designers like e. g. Iris van Herpen. I love his work – the results are very much Masha Ma. Together with the chrome heels and curved lines, the nude and navy leather really mirror the contours of my collection.”
For a closer look at Masha Ma’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection and some snaps from the backstage area, please see the photo gallery above.