During a trip to Hong Kong earlier this year, Hanako Maeda was impressed by the way young locals in the city’s Soho neighborhood mixed traditional Chinese dress, such as the cheongsam, with new streetwear. Improbably enough, “that lead to my exploration of Seventies disco,” Maeda explained backstage. It wasn’t as out of left field as it sounded. She’s been trying to bridge cultures in her fashion and encourage people to break away from a homogeneous way of dressing. In her mind, Studio 54 was where people felt free to express themselves through clothes.
The concept was nice, but mixing elements of classic Chinese fashion with the soft focus shine of the Seventies presented a challenge. The collection, full of fluid dresses and skirts with wrapping and pleating details that were at times complicated, brimmed with the curiosity and raw charm of an emerging designer who’s excited to take risks. But some of the ideas didn’t add up. The soft focus Seventies sheen of iridescent pink organza is a hard sell on any level. Likewise seafoam green. More sophisticated and complete was an asymmetric blue top and matching paperbag pants and a navy group with silver floral embroidery inspired by a vintage cheongsam.