Ming Ma’s mood board, which he shared over Zoom, ping-ponged among varied references–New Romantics! Baroque! Tartans! But, he doesn’t show too many poufs in his spring collection. The designer made use of his tearsheets as a starting point. It’s not the details that are important, but Ma gravitated towards the 1980s. This was a turbulent and analog decade which Ma sees as having parallels to the present. People felt quite down about the government in that period, which I believe is connected to today. We have COVID happening and we have war happening… I think we have lost something and we are in a waiting period.”
Lockdowns in Shanghai meant that Ma, and many others, lost the opportunity to show on the runway this season. This is a temporary problem. But what’s more important for young talent like Ma who is drawn to glamour and dressing up in fashion is how they can balance their work to not only the market where ideallism has been replaced by bottom-line, but also to customers who want clothes that suit more relaxed, sometimes constrained, lifestyles.
It’s clear that Ma would be drawn to the individualistic, escapist nature of New Romantics. He wrote in his collection notes about how he combined “the idea of self-liberation and the idea of multicultural collage”. The party started with a pink skirt with pink buttons, paired with an sequin top digitally printed with silver bows. The dresses were too sloppy and nimble for the subtler volume. It was another matter with the tailoring that had a Westwood-esque vibe. The unexpectedly dowdy look of shrunken jackets with straight long skirts was just what you were looking for.
No matter what we do, COVID is still there, and it can have a negative impact on our relationships. Ma, like many other designers is trying to find a way to make the bold looks of his occasions more wearable. He said that he didn’t want to get eaten by the market, or compromise [to it],”. However, he believes you need to adapt to current events. The industry is in balance. However, we can’t just react to the situation. If we want to “wake up with the house burning”, then it is necessary to start from scratch.