As someone who owns two pairs of go-go boots and a closet full of 60s dresses, I was lightheaded when I saw samples from Kristina Mak’s 2018 spring/summer collection. Her brilliant prints and bell sleeves are evocative of Warhol’s “Factory,” but her use of fabric and fitted tailoring situates Kristina Mak right in the present moment. This is what makes Mak’s designs so timeless- she knows her references and borrows from them while maintaining a forward-thinking eye. It is also what makes me so fond of her work. While I love to follow fashion, I believe that personal style is enduring. “Trends come and go,” Mak says, “but art is forever.”
Mak’s designs are not for the wallflower. They are for the woman who wants to be noticed. When the Kristina Mak woman walks in the door, all eyes go to her (and her brightly-colored jumpsuit). Here I am modeling Mak’s chiffon Palm Beach Jumpsuit. I had lots of fun shooting with fashion photographer James Ferrari, who photographed supermodels like Gia Carangi in the 1970s-1980s.
The designer describes the Kristina Mak woman as “the modern sophisticate.” “What makes her special,” she says, “is her fearless behavior and ability to think on her own feet.” Jumpsuits are a power move. In a bold print like this one, they signal to everyone around that the wearer is not afraid to be noticed. In fact, she prefers to be in the spotlight. Perhaps this is because the jumpsuit has historically been tied to women’s liberation, as it allowed women to be comfortable while maintaining a feminine silhouette. Kristina Mak’s bold prints are feminine in this forward-thinking way. They subvert the notion that femininity is delicate in favor of a version of womanhood that is sexy, strong, and eye-catching.
Though the various prints share vibrancy and volume, each intricate print is different from the next. Mak hand-draws and colors each print before digitizing it. Her artistry is evident in the fabrics’ exquisite detail- layers upon layers of interlocking shapes. Furthermore, her prints don’t seem contrived. Their perfection feels natural, like the golden circle at work in nature, rather than the output from a machine. “The computer is just a tool,” Mak says. The art flows naturally from her fingers, by way of colored pencils and markers. The effect is sublime: richly detailed patterns that look like they leapt off an artist’s canvas.
Now, I love this dress more than I love most things in life. The shapes fit together like an optical illusion; an Escher tessellation for the female form. Additionally, the colors complement one another beautifully. I am always fond of magenta paired with black and white, and the warm orange and yellow tones added to this classic combo integrate nicely. Lastly, the shape is both fun & flattering (the holy grail!) The shoulder cutouts draw attention to the neck, visually slimming the upper body. An A-line shape fits many bodies beautifully, skimming over whatever curves the wearer may or may not have. The sleeves are my favorite part of the look. Flaring out from the elbows are vintage-inspired 60’s bell sleeves- whimsical and referential.
Though days in England are often rainy, these cotton blazers are anything but. They are are fully lined with silk chiffon in a coordinating color (and so SO soft to the touch). Textured gold ribbon embroiders the lapel and cuff of each jacket. Mak designs right down to the tiniest of details- like the gold-plated cross-hatching fastening button. These details are what differentiate a Kristina Mak from a knock-off. It is not enough for the fabric to be beautiful; every element of the garment bears a small addition that makes it all the more special.
The London Jacket can be dressed down, with light wash cutoff jeans and clean white sneakers. It can also be dressed up with Mak’s Lithuania Short in the coordinating print. This decorative short-suit would look lovely paired with gold heels and a striking personality to match.
Kristina Mak’s designs are everything I love and want in my wardrobe: eye-catching, vintage-inspired, and forward-thinking clothes. The fact that Mak hand-draws her prints is even more exciting, as it reminds me of a question I ponder a lot: What is the line between fashion and art? For Mak, there is none. They are one and the same.