The Empress in the Chinese Century
by Lotus Ladegaard and Olivia Moreau
MaryMa is the most prominent name within the Chinese fashion industry. The brand itself is synonymous with fashion royalty as much as Vera Wang or Tom Ford. So it is no wonder that MaryMa has been on our radar for a better part of a decade.
Mary Ma, the founder, and CEO of Maryma Haute Couture established her own fashion brand in 1999 after a successful career in modeling as one of China’s most sought-after models in the mid and late 1990’s. With an international perspective and integration of Chinese as well as Western elements, she has established a custom brand that is in demand with celebrities worldwide and lusted after by common people.
Maryma's collection plays with Asian and Western influences but is also borderline avant-garde. It is edgy, editorial and appeals to many different women. Her colour palettes are kept simple, black, white, gold, silver and bright red with a hint of pink, orange and earth tones. But her ability to play with hemlines, lapels and while adding subtle Asian embellishments and design details leaves even weary eyes in awe.
In her new collection, she builds on what has worked for her for almost 20 years without being static. The asymmetrical hemlines and the white embroidery add a bit of edge to classic suits. The black dresses with the double lapels across pay homage to the avant-garde fashionistas. The black coat dresses with the long slit in front with red trousers as well as the black short dress with lace trousers makes subtle edgy statements and gave a new perspective to layer-on-layer evoking a treat for the eyes. The more avant-garde pieces such as the red looks are meant to be showstoppers and they do exactly that. Those looks from delicate silhouettes to impeccable Elizabeth collars is tailor-made for red carpets and it would be a surprise if we don't see these dresses during the Emmys and Academy award season.
Mary Ma's ability to create intricate designs is only rivaled by her commercial appeal and astute business plan. She remains as one of the most important figures in the new China fashion circle and likely will dictate fashion for a long period of time in the land of the forbidden city. But her designs are not nativist by any means. It has broad global appeal and that is likely to make her the matriarch of many Asian designers who are branching out into Paris, Milan, New York or London.