Style with Chinese characteristics


MaxMara, Frey Wille, Louis Vuitton and Tod’s created crossover-themed looks. Photos: Courtesy of Marie Claire

When the light goes dark, Chinese veteran music talent Zhang Yadong appears on the stage to spin from the DJ booth in front of an audience of hundreds, including models, celebrities and representatives from the world’s top fashion brands. Zhang, perhaps more well-known for singing and composing than DJing, was invited to open “Crossover,” the 2011 Marie Claire Style China gala Thursday night in Beijing.

The show, the fourth one launched by women’s magazine Marie Claire, invited almost every big fashion brand to showcase their designs on the topic of “Crossover” with Chinese elements. The magazine will later choose a date to hold a show in order to display the resulting Chinese styles.

“Style China has grown into a major show that they never want to miss in the past three years. And this year we wanted to do something different. So we gave out the topic of ‘Crossover’ and also offered some suggestions about Chinese elements to these brands,” Ai Mier, China Managing Director for Beijing Hachette Advertising, which owns Marie Claire, told the Global Times.

The Crossover topic must be the most popular theme in the town, as everything in every area seems to be crossing over something else. But Deng Li, editor-in-chief of the French magazine, commented that the seemingly easy topic, in fact, became a headache for some brands.

“It is not simply to add something to the other thing. It must be a production that suits our topic and can be worn or used. Some brands would rather give up this time than handing in something that can’t even convince themselves,” Deng said.

“Think for a moment, you will find that the topic is quite difficult,” Ai added. “What we want is not a blueprint, but a designed item that can be produced and worn by models. Just like what MaxMara did, spending two months in changing the draft into the real coat. At the same time, the coat needs to go with the brand’s style.”

The homework that Italian label MaxMara handed in is a collaboration with avant-garde artist Cui Youwen, whose signature-painting icon, Cuici, a lovely black-haired little girl has been embroidered on the brand’s classic coat. “The signatures including Chinese-style haircut, red scarf and horizontal stripes used to be seen on Chinese kids’ armbands are all reborn into the label and help us review the past memory,” Cui said.

The Cuici Coat is just one of the 19 answers that labels gave to the call of Crossover. French label Agnès b., inspired by a Chinese paper-cut of Chinese character Fu, created a long dress, which has that paper-cut photo adding on a Paris street shoot. “When being told that the word means happiness in Chinese, I got the idea of the long dress, meaning Love and Peace,” said Agnès b.

Not just a paper-cut, but also a short visit to Beijing inspired a good answer. Graeme Fidler, creative director of Bally, found his inspiration in a visit to the Forbidden City. “One photo among what we took when seeing things caught our attention, was of a simple red door studded with metal, breathtaking in its simplicity and yet very ornate, that photo really became the starting point for this project,” he recalled, whose team later created a pair of red shoes decorated with golden lines.

Nobody would know that a white D&G wedding dress decorated with traditional Chinese embroidery could be so stunning and gorgeous without the Crossover call. Women of the Chinese Qiang minority spent hours embroidering flowers one at a time on the white dress. “We were shocked by their craftsmanship years ago. So hearing about this project, they were our choice. And it allows us to embrace the culture of various nations to create something new and unique,” said designer Domenico Dolce.

From shoes, dresses to bags, various labels have different answers. Some may be just a folding fan, but a very delicate one. French label Louis Vuitton designed a Chinese-style fan made of monogram lace. Its creative director Marc Jacobs wanted to bring something carrying Asian influences for the Louis Vuitton woman, who is “strong and wants to display the Louis Vuitton logo.”

It seemed that musician Zhang Yadong didn’t just want to do the DJ thing at the show that night. He also showcased his collaboration with designer Diane von Furstenberg, a 20-minute, black-and-white video clip called Infection. “I like to meet the conflicts that come from people with different backgrounds. Everyone has his own passion in a certain area and will find more about yourself than before when cooperating with others,” said Zhang, explaining his understanding of Crossover.

In fact, what Zhang said echoes the organizers’ intentions, to discover and explore more. “This stage belongs to any good ideas that these labels bring to us. We are happy to see more and more Chinese elements in their designs, not just only red and dragons. It means that they are getting to know about this country and its culture, both traditional and modern. And they will know more in the future,” Ai said. 

Source: Global Times

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