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China Daily Website

NY loves Masha Ma

Updated: 2013-06-18 08:50
By Caroline Berg in New York ( China Daily)

NY loves Masha Ma

Chinese fashion designer Masha Ma poses next to her creations in Paris as part of the Paris Fashion Week Fall 2012. Thomas Samson / AFP Photo

A DJ stood inside the foyer of the hotel room, mixing songs 57 floors above Times Square as drinks and light bites were served and people gathered to greet the guest of honor.

Up-and-coming Chinese clothing designer Masha Ma was fashionably late to the cocktail party held last week at the newly renovated Times Square-themed Extreme WOW Suite at W New York - Times Square to celebrate her participation in the CFDA/VogueFashion Fund's China Exchange Program.

Ma is living in the hotel for the month as the second designer to participate in the China exchange program, which launched last year and featured emerging designer Uma Wang.

"Masha is so well known and well respected and we're so excited that she's here," says Brooke Travis, director of brand management at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, which oversees the W Hotels Worldwide.

The trendy hotel brand has partnered with the Council of Fashion Designers of America to offer a home away from home for designers in the exchange program.

Ma's itinerary began with two days at designer Michael Kors, where she got to see his entire resort line presentation, meet with the CEO and all the other heads, including the design and public relations teams.

In 11 days, she has also toured J. Crew, Tommy Hilfiger, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Vogue, Theory and spent her day prior to the cocktail party with designer Tory Burch.

"I found the Tory Burch team absolutely inspiring," Ma says, peering out from under a black bob with bangs shading one eye. "They're so advanced with their social media, which I really appreciated. I think it's the next generation thing - you won't survive anywhere if you're not doing social media."

Ma says her business is in the beginning stages. Her most recent collection, Masha Ma SS13 "Betta Storm", was shown at Paris Fashion Week in October 2012 and subsequently sold in the Milan-based Spiga 2 boutique - a project by Dolce &Gabanna - and Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong and Istanbul.

Ma became interested in fashion after reading an article about Alexander McQueen and got to work as an assistant to the designer before his passing in 2010. Simultaneously, Ma studied at Central Saint Martins in London where she received an M.A. in Women's Wear in 2008.

When the exchange program is over at the end of June, Ma will travel to Switzerland to check on a new fabric design, participate in a show in China, then return to Paris.

"I never wanted to just be a designer," Ma says. "We're going to become a brand."