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Ma Ke

Ma Ke

Styled like souffle: A Ma Ke outfit in Paris

Born in Jilin, Ma Ke is considered one of the more important emerging fashion designers in China.

In 1996, Ma started her ready-to-wear brand Exception de Mixmind, using only eco-friendly cotton, silk, linen and wool. A decade later, the designer decided to launch a new line that had “social benefits” rather than being “market-oriented”. She named the collection Wu Yong (“useless” in Chinese). Ah, the irony.

“I have alternative career choices,” Ma admits. “However, I find fashion design still the most familiar language to me. It is something I will never give up.”

What is she famous for?

In 2007, Ma became the first mainland designer to show at Paris Haute Couture. Her collection The Earth, much like the designer herself, was a controversial one.

Ma covered the venue, a school playground, with soil shipped in from her homeland. Then she dressed up 26 models, aged from 8 to 75, with clothes she had previously buried in sand. Clearly it did the trick in impressing the deeply sophisticated fashionistas present. Paris Match magazine was moved to call Ma “a great talent”.

Why is she in the news?

The designer says she is media-shy, so it was something of an annoyance to be pictured at the recent World Design Congress hosted in Beijing. It was a rare exception for Ma, who doesn’t like to be photographed or interviewed, to be caught in the public spotlight.


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