Changchun ~ China
Chinese designer Ma Ke advocates the cultural and social aspects of clothes that envelope the human body. She received her Award for the superb craftsmanship and beauty of her work, for her attention to the complex interaction between clothing, culture and the body, and for stimulating an awareness of the social, cultural and environmental aspects of design and production. A bold voice in contemporary fashion design, Ma Ke asserts the cultural and social dimensions of clothing the human body. While studying, Ma Ke found that ideas of unique designs incorporating local cultural value, using sustainable materials and skilled craftsmanship, were considered ‘wu yong’ (useless). Confronted by the local clothing industry with its cheap, homogenising mass-production and poorly paid workers whose skill is not valued, and by a fashion scene lacking local aesthetic influence and dominated by foreign labels, she dedicated herself to developing her ‘useless’ ideas. She produces simple, organic and locally inspired casual wear, and demonstrates conceptual and highly creative design in her ‘Wu Yong’ collection of powerful, sculpted forms. This dramatic collection references China’s rich history and highlights the role of time and natural processes, the qualities of organic materials and the value of handcraft. It questions the values propagated through clothing in modern cultures across the world, critiquing the consumerism, superficiality and commercialisation of international fashion and the erasure of unique local historical and cultural memories. Ma Ke is honoured for the superb craftsmanship and aesthetic quality of her work, for highlighting the complex interactions of clothing, culture and the body, and for promoting socially, culturally and environmentally sensitive design and production.