Masha Ma aims high in New York
A DJ was in 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 honour, Chinese clothing designer Masha Ma, who was fashionably late.
The cocktail party, held last month at the W New York hotel, was to celebrate Ms Ma's participation in the CFDA/VogueFashion Fund's China Exchange Programme.
She was living in the hotel for the month as the second designer to participate in the China exchange programme, which launched last year and featured designer Uma Wang.
"Masha is so well-known and well-respected, and we're so excited that she's here," said Ms Brooke Travis, director of brand management at Starwood Hotels and Resorts 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 programme.
Ms Ma's itinerary began with two days at Michael Kors, where she got to see the designer's entire resort-line presentation, and met the chief executive and other staff, including the design and public-relations teams.
She has since toured J. Crew, Tommy Hilfiger, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Vogue, Theory and spent a day with designer Tory Burch.
"I found the Tory Burch team absolutely inspiring," she said, peering out from under a black bob with bangs shading one eye.
"They're so advanced (in their use of) 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."
Ms Ma said her business was in the early stages. Her most recent collection, Masha Ma SS13 Betta Storm, was shown at Paris Fashion Week in October last year and sold subsequently in the Milan-based Spiga 2 boutique, and Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong and Istanbul.
She became interested in fashion after reading an article about Alexander McQueen and got to work as an assistant to the designer before he died in 2010.
She studied at Central Saint Martins in London, where she received a Master of Arts in Women's Wear in 2008.
After the exchange programme, she will travel to Switzerland to check out a new fabric design. She will then participate in a show in China.
"I never wanted to be just a designer," she said. "We're going to become a brand."
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK