Born in Beijing, trained in London, based in Paris, Masha Ma is part of an emerging globalized generation that doesn't believe in geotagged labeling anymore. "This is not cultural collage," read the last line of her show notes. After a visit to I.M. Pei's Suzhou Museum, the designer's fall collection reflected the Pritzker Prize winner's modernist interpretation of classic Chinese architecture.
Coats had a generously proportioned collar closed with some heavy colored links. Along with the earthy color palette, it imparted a Seventies flavor that was quickly made current by the asymmetric folds of skirts and second skin leather leggings. Sheer sweater blocked with felted wool played on transparencies that made the skin an integral part of the design. The overall mood was of sensible-minded daywear, equally appropriate in Paris or in Beijing.
Less appreciable were small missteps such as the furry edges of a fold that were distractingly reminiscent of an off-kilter merkin, and the ungainly floor-sweeping flares, whose main crime was hiding Ma's shoes. In keeping with the block heel that was a popular option on the runways of the season, they were skeleton versions that echoed Pei's structures. Likewise, sweater dresses were decorated with T-shaped outlines. After a while, the rigorous lines that dressed strict and tailored shapes evolved into the outline of two nested Ms. These were the sportier options, and contrasted prettily with the elegance of her earlier jackets and vests. Ma has proved herself over the years a graphic and poetic designer. Today will not mar her track record.