Very much based on a Chinese aesthetic, Guo Pei’s dramatic twist on blue and white porcelain presented at Hong Kong Fashion Week a couple of years ago.
It’s all about fashion in today’s China. New found wealth is fuelling a fashion boom in most of the larger cities of China. The luxury goods sector has always commanded the attention of Chinese shoppers, especially the younger ones. But most of those luxury goods were imported. The difference these days is that China’s own high end luxury fashion business is now powering on . . .
Recognition internationally came a couple of months ago when the Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York unveiled China: Through the Looking Glass. This exhibition paid homage to the influence of pre-Communist China’s influences on Western fashion. The vast exhibition didn’t just fill the Hall of the Costume Institute, but also all of the Museum’s Chinese art galleries. It was notable that the show came exactly 100 years after the founding of the Met’s Asian art collection in 1915.
Top designer Guo Pei
A month earlier, in April, a new book was published, Fashion China by fashion curator Gemma Williams: an anthology of writing and illustration of the work of no less than 41 Chinese fashion designers.
The Met’s opening party was graced by stars and personalities like Rihanna, who wore a creation by Guo Pei, often regarded as China’s first significant couturiere. Chinese actress and personality Fan Bingbing was also there, as was American Vogue‘s chief editor Anna Wintour lending her approval to the emergence of Chinese fashion onto the world stage. Other significant recent events have included the opening in Shanghai of The Conde Nast Center of Fashion & Design and the Istituto Marangoni. Already a fixture on the international fashion circuit, Masha Ma has had her own label in Shanghai since 2008. She now divides her time between Shanghai and Paris where she launches her creations at Paris Fashion Week.
Traditional Chinese underwear given a modern lingerie twist. The bellyband by Dudou. Much of their underwear is fashioned in silk and hand-painted, a world away from the functional garments of the past.
Increasingly, Chinese fashion designers are becoming less ‘Chinese’ and do not feel the requirement to pay obeisance to Chinese history or culture. They are now developing their own identities and truly cosmopolitan, international designs. As Xiamen-based designer Shanguan Zhe (founder of the Sankuanz label), puts it, ‘It’s hard for me to say that my designs have just a Chinese aesthetic or just an international aesthetic.’
Shanguan Zhe of Sankuanz