Fashion in Motion: Ma Ke

Curator Oriole Cullen comments on Chinese designer Ma Ke's radical Fashion in Motion presentation

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Video Transcript

Today's Fashion in Motion is by Ma Ke whose clothes are on display in our China Design Now exhibition which is currently showing in the temporary exhibitions space. We really wanted to tie in with that and showcase some of the emerging designers coming from China.

Ma Ke is a very well established designer in China. Her brand, Exception de Mixmind, is one of China's most popular brands. In 2006 she set up Wuyong, her artistic label. Wuyong means 'useless'. The idea behind the brand is that Ma Ke looks at objects which are discarded, sometimes regarded as useless by people, and then takes a different viewpoint and fashions them into some of the amazing clothes that we have seen here today. So, for instance, the idea of recycling an old tarpaulin or a paint-splashed sheet or ripped, ragged clothing and creating something new from that.

So the message really that's coming across is sustainability in fashion. Also very much about the individual's point of view, and that's something that Ma Ke really values.

So the idea of sustainability, ethical fashion, is very much in the headlines at the moment. It's something that the Museum has been engaging with and so we were delighted to be able to welcome Ma ke here today for this event.

The usual format for Fashion in Motion is a catwalk show in the Raphael Gallery space and the audience is seated either side of a long runway, but for this show, obviously, we've really departed from that. So we've taken a bit of a gamble, in the sense that it's audience that are in motion, but the idea of showing fashion on a live, breathing model is still there; that's inherent in the display, although the models themselves aren't moving.

So it was very interesting for us to see how the audience reacted because they didn't know what they were coming to see. We hadn't informed them exactly the format of the show. It was really interesting to see people coming in and one person jumped when they looked up and said, 'I thought they were statues'.

So that's been really nice and I think it's been a success.


Ma Ke is one of China'a most exciting emerging designers, challenging Western fashion conventions, with a rigorously ethical outlook and designs inspired by nature and the rich history of her native China. To coincide with the 2008 exhibition 'China Design Now', the V&A invited Ma Ke to stage a Fashion in Motion presentation in the museum. The event proved to be one of the most unusual in the series.

Ma Ke has a rigorously ethical outlook and produces fashion inspired by nature and the rich history of her native China...

This film takes a look at the atmospheric presentation of Ma Ke’s artistic label Wuyong, as curator Oriole Cullen discusses the designer’s passion for working with supposedly ‘useless’ objects.