Building foundations with Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry
Even seasoned travellers welcome the insight of the right sort of local, a gently guiding hand in new territories or a fresh take on the familiar. With this in mind, Wallpaper* in collaboration with Tudor watches has produced a series of Style Files; country-specific, cliché-dodging dossiers and in-the-field notes for the contemporary explorer who really knows where they are going.
Having established her credentials during a critically acclaimed catwalk show at London Fashion week, Central Saint Martins graduate Masha Ma now divides her time between Beijing and Paris. The Chinese-born fashion designer remains fiercely proud of her roots, thrilling to the accelerated development and constantly evolving landscape of China’s big cities. Ma still keeps an atelier in the eternally fashionable Bund area of Shanghai, notable for its mix of new hotels and old colonial-era buildings. She also knows her way around the hippest cocktail bars, antique shops, galleries and modern architecture of Beijing. Her personal city tours preach a healthy appreciation of traditional Chinese aesthetics and fiercely contemporary references. Ask her to recommend somewhere for a drink and she might suggest a dirty Martini at Beijing’s super-luxe D Lounge or a Yunnan-sourced packet of exotic tea purchased from a local supermarket. Her favourite buildings? ‘I love the traditional architecture in China,’ she says. ‘It’s totally unique. Chinese buildings have a very specific balance to their shape and structure. Which is why I am also a fan of OMA’s amazing CCTV tower.’ Ma’s approach to fashion is every bit as eclectic and East/West cosmopolitan. The young designer, who has been shortlisted for many awards and won the 2009 Mouse Ji International Innovation prize, describes her womenswear collections as ‘semi-couture’; bold and intricate designs that enhance the female form with swagger and grace. ‘Modern femininity is what is missing in fashion right now,’ she says. ‘Fashion can be beautiful and feminine. Chinese women are undeniably strong, sophisticated, dedicated... and never silenced.’