Min Liu
of MS MIN

Min Liu of MS MIN

Interview:
Sharon Weissburg

Discussing womenswear has always involved negotiating what is modern. All too often, that conversation has been manipulated with the objective of marketing whatever is new and next rather than what is the right design for our times — yet a small coterie of designers will forever endure whose concern with modernity is useful, honest, and beautiful.

Min Liu of MS MIN is one of these designers. Born in Fuzhou, China, she first introduced her sensitive collections to the world in 2011. The fine fabrics, immaculate tailoring, rich palette, and quietly distinctive signatures of the apparel produced in her Xiamen atelier have attracted a global following — and yet for all the growth the brand has experienced, MS MIN still cleaves to its original values of restrained and artful elegance. We caught up with the designer on balance, motherhood, and life in Xiamen.

Sharon:

When you’ve spoken about your collections in the past, a lot of your vocabulary centers around the idea of balance — in terms of energy, identity, femininity, everything. How do you strive for balance in your life? In your work?

Min:

That’s a constant work in progress. As long as we keep clear awareness and stay present. That's the beginning and the end… But that’s not easy.

S:

Where and how do you do your best thinking?

M:

My best thinking comes when the timing is right… when I meet someone, when I’m having a great conversation, when I see something interesting, when I read something amazing, when I remember something that I almost forgot… My best thinking happens when I'm living and loving.

S:

You’re known for eschewing the traditional fashion show circuit in favor of simplified lookbooks, which allows for a lot of interpretation about context. What kind of spaces and situations do you envision your creations being worn in?

Min Liu of MS MIN - Studio Wall

M:

My creations are for life. I'd say 95% of what I create can be worn almost anywhere — airplane, business, leisure, nature, special occasion… that's the modern spirit to me, super chic, special, but super comfortable. Edge and ease in one. I think it's possible to feel all that at the same time. As individuals, we are multi-layered and our souls are multidimensional and complex, so to cover all that in a simple garment is not easy, but it's possible.

S:

You’ve said that you gained a lot of your appreciation for clothes from your mother, who sounds like quite the dresser. As a new mother yourself (congratulations), what parts of yourself do you hope to pass on to your child?

M:

My mother has always loved clothes. Her style is very simple and humble, but she’s hard to please. I remember hating clothes she chose for me when I was a child... I was dying to choose my own clothes. But as I accompanied her shopping, I discovered and developed my own taste for clothes. And actually, as I become older, I grew to appreciate the simplicity of her taste more and more. She never chased trends.

My son is his own person, he will have his own thoughts, tastes and journey. I only hope he lives happily, and lives his individuality. What he would love to take from his parents? I think that will be all up to him.

S:

How do you define elegance in the modern era, and how can people hope to achieve it?

M:

Elegance comes from the heart, from a respectful soul, one that believes in truth and kindness and transforms these things into thoughts, words, actions, and the choices made in life. Clothes are only a very small part of it.

S:

What is living and working in Xiamen like these days? Do you think it has changed since fashion brands like Ports and your own took root there?

Min Liu of MS MIN model

M:

Living in Xiamen was initially for work but later became a lifestyle choice. The city just offers a type of calm. Difficult to find in many urban cities today… it’s growing rapidly, though. I’m just hoping to hold onto the charms of the city as long as possible.

S:

The word “chinoiserie” has often been applied to your work, a term that specifically references Western evocation of Chinese visual themes. As a Chinese designer who often incorporates elements of traditional Chinese dress within your broader globalist vision, how would you like to see these cultural visual themes worn by other cultures throughout the world?

M:

I think any true beauty belongs to the world. I'm born Chinese and deeply connected to my culture, so my view starts there... expressing this culture, through my eyes. But true beauty shares a universal language.

S:

Art has always shown a marked influence on your work. Are there any artists or artworks that are especially inspiring to you these days?

M:

I think life is art… feeling life, living, and loving is art.

Min Liu of MS MIN model
Min Liu of MS MIN