Bach Mai Pre-Fall 2023

While masks might be reappearing on the streets and subways of New York City, social distancing seems to be mostly a thing of the past. At the same time, clothes are getting closer to the body. There might not be a direct correlation there, but as we tracked in the spring trend report, designers are starting to turn away from the naked look and towards a second-skin goddess aesthetic. For pre-fall Bach Mai explored just that.

In Mai’s pantheon of designers, Cristóbal Balenciaga and Madeleine Vionnet loom large. The sculptural volante dresses this young designer has become known for borrow asymmetry and volume from Balenciaga. This season he’s found ways to make the dresses lighter materially (by eliminating some of the support materials) and visually (by using sheer fabrics for mini versions that float over abbreviated lingerie dresses or slim skirts.

The most ethereal designs in the collection however are those inspired by Vionnet. Mai, who worked alongside Galliano, returned to the bias cut here and came up with dresses as weighless as ghosts. Many of them are made of one spiraling piece of fabric and added straps. Those made from a black jacquard velvet on chiffon have a cobwebby gothic feeling, while Mai evoked a “picnic” vibe with his “live plaid” dresses, partly inspired by the swirling glass work of Lino Tagliapietra. These are made by over layering bias-cut striped fabrics. The “plaid” is an illusion created by their intersection.

Another of Mai’s pre-fall storylines came from “The Tudors” exhibition at the Met, from which the designer developed Elizabethan-style corset tops which look like sure hits. More interpretive is the “block upon legs” silhouette Mai based off of Henry VIII’s stance, and which took the form of a pearl-embroidered mini mantle worn with long, side-snap basketball shorts. It’s exciting to see this kind of challenging proportion play alongside the more obvious slam-dunk designs like the corset tops.

It’s probably easier to play it safe when you are building a business, but Mai likes to change things up a bit every season. He reports that spring’s wide-leg pants are selling well, while his Balenciaga-inspired bomber jackets, seeming outliers in an evening wear collection, are catching customers’ fancies.

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