Ming Ma’s pretty spring collection was kickstarted by a documentary on the highly influential Ballets Russses, the troupe with which Vaslav Nijinsky danced and from which Paul Poiret developed a dramatic palette that broke with the conventions of the 1910s. Ma’s idea was to bring some of those visual references into his own world, and use them in a way that would offer women strength and self-confidence as well as the romance the brand is known for.
It’s not nostalgia that drives this CSM-grad to look to the past—the collection featured many corsets and crinolines—but a desire to modernize and make relevant for today existing elements of women’s dress. “Today, when [there’s so much] sportswear, high street, and street wear, we are trying to get them something more niche,” said the designer.
Ma’s focus on dance and historical references is aligned with global trends that emerged during the spring season, but done in his own way. Mini pouf dresses had bra details that were sexier than sweet; though there was a generous dose of sweetness throughout, expressed through the use of lace and flowers. In some cases, Ma transformed silhouettes through his fabric choices. A white skirt with godets was unexpectedly made of white denim; a blue denim ensemble was prettified with floral appliques cut from an embroidered tulle the designer created with a mill in Italy. Ma played with this material’s sheerness by draping yards of it over a white crinoline in another look.
If there’s a misstep here, it was in an overabundance of silhouettes, the addition of an empire dress and a halter A-line felt out of tempo with an otherwise well-edited and charming lineup.