Fashion Runway Fashion Visionaries Legendary Designers on the Fashion Visionaries Who Inspire Them A Cleaner, Kinder Vision for Fashion's Future Leather is the Biggest Fight in Fashion Right Now Henry Zankov Is Creating a Colorful Future in Knitwear Kate Spade's Spring Collection Nods to the Intense Weather Bach Mai Is Bringing Couture to American Fashion Tia Adeola On Creating a Fashion Brand That Breaks The Mold CLOSE Part of Fashion Visionaries Bach Mai Is Bringing Couture to American Fashion The designer was just nominated for a CFDA award, 11 months after starting his brand. By Alyssa Hardy Alyssa Hardy Instagram Twitter Alyssa Hardy is a fashion and culture writer living in New York City. She was formerly the Fashion News Editor at Teen Vogue and the Senior News Editor at InStyle. She recently launched a newsletter titled "This Stuff," which publishes twice weekly. In each edition, readers find timely commentary on news stories and current events in fashion, along with personal essays and musings on trends and celebrity style, featuring personal anecdotes from Alyssa's life as a fashion insider.Alyssa is a staunch advocate for garment workers' rights, and has a deep passion for educating others about fashion's environmental impact — tones that can be felt throughout 'This Stuff.' Her work has been featured in InStyle, Vogue, NYLON, Refinery29, TeenVogue, Ladygunn, Fashionista, and Allure. She is currently working on her debut book, a non-fiction exploration of ethics in fashion titled 'Worn Out.' InStyle's editorial guidelines Published on September 26, 2022 @ 09:29AM Pin Share Tweet Email Photo: Amber Gray / Getty Images For most people, "American fashion" means something specific. Usually, it's ready-to-wear, preppy, and bright, led by brands like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Diane Von Furstenberg. Couture isn't generally on the list, and that's why designer Bach Mai started his brand in the U.S. The Texas-born and raised fashion designer went to Parson's for fashion design and then quickly made his way to Paris, where he became John Galliano's first design assistant focusing on Artisanal Haute Couture. While this was a defining point in his career, he knew he'd be back in New York. Amber Gray "I always wanted to be an American designer," Bach Mai says on a Zoom call from his Manhattan studio. He's excited as he explains this because a week before we spoke, he was nominated for CFDA's Emerging Designer award. In the past, Christopher John Rogers, Emily Adams Bode and Sander Lak of Sies Marjan have been the recipients of the coveted prize. It's pretty remarkable, considering his eponymous brand is only 11 months old. "For me, it's about championing American craftsmanship. We make everything here in the garment district in New York. And I work side-by-side with all these ateliers," he says. "There are people who love to make beautiful things, complicated things. My clothes are a bit difficult to make sometimes, but plenty of people love that challenge and being able to push themselves and their craft." Amber Gray During New York Fashion Week, Bach Mai showed his Spring/Summer 2023 collection in a presentation in his showroom-turned-venue. Guests walked through three sets of models wearing elaborate gowns made from intricate fabrics, like velvet and silk, and rompers underneath organza dresses that, when under light, look like oil slicks. The collection was inspired by Bach Mai's father, who worked at an oil refinery and would wake up early in the morning to go to work wearing a blue jumpsuit. That's why most of the pieces featured some variation on a bright blue hue. During the show, models would slowly move, making hand gestures that mimicked things like slowly wiping something off your hand. "I was a dance major at [New York University's] Eugene Lang, where I also got a B.A.," he explained. "Movement is important to me, and that's why I worked with House of Bambi to choreograph the show." He wanted the models to feel and look powerful — and they did. The designer and models at Bach Mai's S/S 2023 presentation. Amber Gray As he moves into the next year of his solo career, the designer has a lot to look forward to. His collections are available in Neiman Marcus; they have been worn by Lucy Liu, Minnie Mills, Tessa Thompson and more celebrities on the red carpet, he is an interim member of the CFDA, and of course, he is continuing to build his team while uplifting craftsmanship right in New York City. "I'm so honored that people see what I'm doing. It's not just a job. I do it because I love it," he concludes.