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Bach Mai Memorializes His Father With Workwear-Tinged Gowns for Spring 2024

Bach Mai presented an emotional Spring 2024 collection on Tuesday that sits in the grief of, and gratitude for, his father's memory.

"Atlas Crossing the River Styx," its official title, is a dedication to the designer's recently deceased father who immigrated from Vietnam to the United States as a refugee. Mai remembers his father as someone who dressed "very blue collar," which he kept in mind while designing Spring 2024. Keeping busy with crafting these pieces helped with heartache, he says, if only a bit.

"It's tough. It's a fucking rollercoaster," he tells Fashionista, of grief, backstage. "The whole collection was really about the memorialization of gesture. It really is capturing gesture, capturing artifacts of a life, of emotion, of an action of someone... a human, a hand... and putting that into the clothing, whether it be through the prints or the clothes or the clutched things kind of frozen into the clothes."

Since launching during the pandemic, Mai has quickly become one to watch for his vibrant demi-couture, and he says his successes are the result of his father's sacrifice and "resilience of Odyssean proportions." As the Spring 2024 show began, silence and smoke filled the room before Josué Pagán sat down to play the guitar solo. In the center of the room, gemstones were suspended above a pyramid that discretely held Mai's father's ashes.

The garments celebrate humanity and handmade things in a staunch rejection of the "looming presence of generative AI," per show notes. Lotus-inspired prints are made up of tender brushstrokes. (The flower works as a double entendre, as it's also symbolic in Vietnamese culture and the Egyptian "Book of the Dead.") Skirts are thoughtfully draped and pleated into a cloud-like silhouette. Vietnam's national áo dài garment is reinterpreted in embroidered lace.

"He loved cargo pants. He wore a lot of workwear," Mai says, remembering his father's style. The designer intentionally reflected this in the collection: Trousers are cut like cargo pants, and functional workwear-style pockets adorn skirts and dresses. Elegant gowns are made with thick straps and clasps taken from overalls.

Colors feel mythic. Darker shades, typically associated with mourning, open the show before transitioning into rich blues. Reds and oranges are reminiscent of spring blooms and human flesh. Off-whites, which close out the collection, feel ethereal or like what someone might wear in the afterlife. Models could be demigods, with black feathers melded into their hair (courtesy of Aunt Jackie's).

The runway closed with the audience's tears, a standing ovation and rush to celebrate the artist backstage.

Keep scrolling to see every look from Bach Mai Spring 2024.

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bach Mai Spring 2024. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

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