This season, Chinese designer Masha Ma opted for a quiet surprising, although rather scholar sounding, collection title, “Luxury Dadaism”. Knowing that “luxury” and the anti-bourgeois “dada” art movement have never been great friends, one might wonder how both elements were able to fuse together into one single collection without being tackily pinpointed or expressed through over-the-top contrasts.
“I collaborated with my friend, the graphic designer Neville Brody, on this collection. We always had the idea of mixing opposites together,” explained the designer backstage after her show. “Luxury is not in the actual designs; it's more in the fabrics, treatments, and hand-made detailing. It's a concept, and you should know how to play with it – and fight against it – in order to make it accessible and effortless, with a certain DIY-feeling.”
In this sense, Ma sent many outfit variations of narrow fitted, pencil skirts and cropped sportswear jumpers on the runway – the sporty element being also reflected by applied, contrasted rubber soles on heels – next to further geometrically patterned, sheer dresses, and boxy jackets, that built the core of her collection.
The “luxury” element could be spotted easily, as the designer opted for shiny silk satin, sheer organza and soft leathers, for most of her outfits, next to hand-made embroideries, using various cuts and shades of Swarovski crystals, and ingenious techniques, such as a yellow jetlace application on a black cocktail dress, as a new take on the hounds-tooth pattern.
Furthermore, vivid colorings, such as shiny metal turquoise and pastel mint hues, were underlining Masha Ma's glam-coated take on twisted luxury. But where was the daring “Dadaism”? Geometrical leather patterns, hazardously inserted on organza, shapely cut-outs, shredded fabric treatments, and the many contrasted patchwork applications, were a great attempt of interpreting the irrational and intuitive feeling of “Dada”, but they might have been a bit too clean and constructed, to actually carry the name of this punchy and anarcho-political art movement.
If you leave the original inspiration behind, you'll be able to fully appreciate Masha Ma's womenswear for what it's worth, a nice take on twisted yet wearable ready-to-wear, with or without Tristan Tzara's approbation.