MASHAMA SS19 presents an international brand vision with a distinctly Chinese perspective. Rejecting the use of tired representations of Chinese culture, MASHAMA embraces global influences, illuminating them in an aesthetic that is exclusively Chinese.
Reflecting on the continued repression of women’s voices in modern China, Ma examines the value of her designs in a woman’s struggle for self-expression. Recognising the power of an assured self-identity, the designer’s desire is to nurture the strong identity of women by creating a collection that acts as a soft armour, both protecting and elevating the wearer.
Masha Ma: London SS19
Existence as a perpetual search for self – continually editing, modifying one’s identity in a form of daily annihilation – is at the core of the collection. The sci-fi film of that name – Annihilation – resonated with Ma, as Lena, the film’s protagonist, is so driven by her thirst for knowledge and ultimately a search for her true self, that it outweighs any fear of her bizarre surroundings.
The film’s action takes place in The Shimmer, an inexplicable environment of ongoing mutation. The designer draws parallels between the Shimmer and modern China – whereby global influences enter, get reflected and then mutated. Throughout the SS19 collection this mutation of influences into a visibly Chinese aesthetic is taking place. Traces of the Glimmer are found in the fabrication – rainbow shimmer sequins, glistening satins, embroidered serpent skin on lace and acid yellow waterproofs.
The powerful image of five strong females entering a battle from which they might not return, reinforces the MASHAMA concept of creating a beautiful outer armour to support women in their ongoing crusade. This is reimagined through a military story of green, khaki, camel, denim, green & brown check, frayed edges, cargo pockets and zips. The battle ground upon which Ma reflects is an urban one; her women are protected by modern tailoring combined with resilient outerwear.
The Ouroboros – a snake that eats its own tail in an eternal cycle of renewal, as well as the snake as a symbol of life and death appearing on the rod of the Asclepius, God of medicine, are both key motifs of the collection. The power of the symbol can be felt in the show venue itself – Université Paris Descartes – where a statue of Asclepius, snake rod in hand, presides over an iron door. Explored as print in the collection, the snake twists and distorts between pretty florals and warped checks, melded together on sumptuous draped silks.
Aceso, a daughter of Asclepius, is the goddess of the healing process. She represents the practice itself, not the cure. Similarly MASHAMA honours the process. Self-discovery is an exercise that may never yield the desired result, but the practice itself is vital.