Ma Ke's anti-fashion couture show

PARIS, July 3, 2008 (AFP) - Ma Ke, the first Chinese designer to be invited to show in haute couture week, used the opportunity to make an anti-fashion statement and stage performance art on the last day of the collections here.

Models present creations by Chinese designer Ma Ke in the collection "Wuyong" during Fall-Winter 2009 Haute Couture collection show at Royal Palace garden in Paris - Photo : Pierre Verdy/AFP

To present her collection which she called "Wuyong" (which means 'useless') in the gardens of the Palais Royal on Thursday she mobilised an army of models, men and women, from youth to grizzled middle age.

Wearing homespun loose fitting trousers, gathered skirts and big shirts, they moved slowly in unison to the soundtrack of a wailing voice for half an hour before departing in single file.

While Ma Ke's avowed aim to protect the environment and search for simplicity in clothes can only be applauded, she surely cannot have expected to find a sympathetic audience in the milieu of couture, noted for its extravagance and excess.

Nor did she offer a viable alternative to the mass-produced cheap Chinese clothes flooding world markets with her pseudo-peasant gear, which looked totally out of place in an urban environment.

The most fascinating part of the show was the decor demonstrating the process of cotton from seeds to clothes, with people actually spinning and working looms.

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