The Ukrainian Atelier Pushing the Boundaries of Headwear

By Alisa Kitrar

Mariia Sylniahina is a fashion visionary who has rapidly made a name for herself in the world of headwear design. As the founder and creative design director of ma-sy-co, a Ukrainian atelier, based in Berlin since 2014, Mariia is known for her bold and innovative approach, drawing inspiration from contemporary art, industrial design, architecture, photography, and nature.

Despite starting out with an engineering background, Mariia’s passion for design and fashion led her to pursue a career in the industry. Since then, she has made a name for herself by pushing the boundaries of headwear design and exploring the niche of virtual fashion. Mariia and her team have created digital headwear that can be worn in virtual spaces, allowing the brand to expand its reach beyond traditional fashion and appeal to new audiences.

Sustainability is a core value for ma-sy-co’s design philosophy, and the brand is dedicated to minimizing waste and reducing its environmental impact. By using high-quality materials and decorative elements, experimenting with 3D design and modern high-tech materials, the brand ensures that each headpiece is customized for a particular client and made to order by prior agreement, keeping waste to a minimum.

Mariia’s unique vision and talent have earned her recognition from some of the most prominent names in the industry. She was named “Millinery’s New Star” and shortlisted in a competition curated by Stephen Jones and Vogue Italia. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and L’Officiel, attesting to the high regard in which the brand is held.

In addition, Mariia has collaborated with notable brands such as Dunhill and Topshop, and has participated in Ukrainian Fashion Week, Kyiv Fashion Week, and Kyiv Fashion Days. Her work has even graced the pages of Harper’s Bazaar Ukraine, where she designed headpieces for a photo shoot with the iconic actress Monica Bellucci.

One of the most signature headpieces from ma-sy-co’s collection is the polymer clay crown embellished with dazzling crystals. First unveiled at Ukrainian Fashion Week, this statement piece has since become a staple of the brand.

The “Black mood” spiky headwear is another head-turning design, drawing inspiration from art, pop culture, and history. The metallic headpieces, embellished with crystal-like spikes, exude an avant-garde vibe that is reminiscent of pop culture fashion icons like Lady Gaga. The headpieces are a nod to the punk movement of the 1970s, where leather jackets and accessories were often adorned with metal studs and spikes. It is worth noting that Iris van Herpen’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection also featured models donning peculiar spiky crowns composed of kinetic feathers and brass coils that were ingeniously designed to perpetually morph their shape.

The “Flora” headwear collection by ma-sy-co is a stunning showcase of how floral motifs have been incorporated into headwear designs throughout history and fashion. Drawing inspiration from sources like Renaissance headpieces adorned with natural elements to Victorian bonnets decorated with flowers, feathers, and ribbons, “Flora” captures the essence of floral headwear trends from ancient to modern times. The intricate floral designs, ranging from delicate buds to bold blossoms, are carefully crafted using high-quality materials to evoke a sense of beauty and femininity.

The collection pays homage to iconic figures like Mata Hari and modern-day indie-pop artist Lana del Rey, while also nodding to the hippie flower crown fashion of the 1960s. It is noteworthy that ma-sy-co is able to take inspiration from the past and make it relevant to modern audiences.

The trend of floral headwear has made numerous appearances on high-fashion runways, with designers like Dior and Comme des Garçons showcasing their own take on the style. For instance, Dior’s Spring 2017 show accentuated beige-colored wildflower headbands, while Comme des Garçons Homme Plus Fall 2016 runway featured models wearing ethereal crowns made of saturated flowers. However, it was Yves Saint Laurent’s Spring 1999 Couture show that pioneered the trend by showcasing Laetitia Casta in a bridal ensemble completely made of flowers.

ma-sy-co’s collection, “Lost in Translations,” is a beautiful tribute to the rich cultural heritage of Asia. The collection boasts many elements commonly found in traditional Chinese hair accessories, including magenta-hued tassels, beads, and intricate filigree work. In addition, the collection features decorative hair ornaments that are inspired by the beauty and elegance of Japanese geisha hairstyles. These include delicate white flower hair clips, twig-styled tiaras, and hot pink paper cords that have been masterfully crafted into exquisite headwear pieces. The fusion of the old and the new is both visually striking and culturally significant. John Galliano’s headpieces for the Dior Spring 2007 couture, inspired by Cio-Cio San and Madame Butterfly, share a similar vision.

The fashion-forward “The Crown” headwear collection by ma-sy-co is a vivid example of how neon headpiece design can be elegantly incorporated into haute couture headwear. The collection showcases the bold and vibrant, albeit elegant swan-like style, paying homage to futuristic designs and the neon lights and signs, serving as a cultural icon of the 80s and 90s era. Drawing inspiration from various cultural movements and trends, including pop art and rave culture, the collection reflects the influence of artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, who used bold colors in their work. The headwear also pays homage to Prada’s Spring 2019 collection, featuring models donning rainbow-hued satin headbands, some adorned with golden crystals. The “Crown” collection is a stunning addition to the brand’s already impressive portfolio of daring and unique headwear designs.

Overall, ma-sy-co is a brand that is quickly making its mark on the fashion industry with its dedication to sustainability, innovative design, and commitment to pushing the boundaries of headwear. With Mariia Sylniahina at the helm, the future looks bright for this bold and visionary atelier.

For the latest updates on headwear collections and designs from ma-sy-co, follow the brand on Instagram: @ma_sy_co