For Mia Li, the past year left the impression of fireworks, which are used to scare off evil spirits in traditional Chinese culture. The fire and fury have died down, but smoke and the smell of gunpowder still linger in the air. She played around with construction and asymmetries to give an impression of an explosion in her garments, from panels spliced into the seam of a sleeve or even prints created in an unusual way: pigments were scattered by using firecrackers as a dispersion method.

The look: Neo-business attire with eye-catching construction details to spice things up, cut from textures comfortable enough to work from home. Cuts take cues from military uniforms, creating poise without constraint. An emphasis on the waist highlights the feminine hourglass silhouette while a palette of winter neutrals is livened up by striking dashes of red or saffron yellow, as well as that colorful explosion print.

Quote of note: “I wanted my woman to look like a peacekeeper — strong, but not aggressive — because it’s in our nature. We are born strong, and we are powerful enough to be free. Women shouldn’t be controlled by cultural stereotypes and labels,” Li said.

Standout pieces: A crimson dress that owes its shape to a military coat reconstructed back to front — the lapels create a daring open back; relaxed suiting with enveloping shoulder pads and roomy trousers; dresses and trousers with colorful panels spliced into side seams to give the impression of a garment falling apart.

Takeaway: Maison Mai fuses a pragmatic professional wardrobe and fashion-forward experiments with aplomb. For women who need to exert soft power on a daily basis, it’s a canny proposition.

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