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Fashion


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Fashion


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Oh! You Pretty Things


Cutting-edge South Korean label Wooyoungmi unveils its androgynous, rock-infused menswear collection for spring/summer 2019

Oh! You Pretty Things


Cutting-edge South Korean label Wooyoungmi unveils its androgynous, rock-infused menswear collection for spring/summer 2019

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Oh! You Pretty Things

January 30, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Founded in 2002 by Korean designer Woo Young-mi, her namesake label is famed for its exquisite designs for men from a woman’s perspective. After succeeding her mother at the helm, creative director Katie Chung has also proven a keen observer of details. This shines through in the Seoul-based brand’s creations, which focus on the concept of balance and a precise colour mix such as sky blue, cream and sulphur.

In its recent seasons, Wooyoungmi has featured a variety of fabrics and silhouettes that meld vintage with futurism. For spring/summer 2019, Chung’s second collection as the sole designer, oversized shoulders and pointed suit collars garnered a great deal of attention. The brand also paid tribute to late rocker David Bowie with a matching jacket and shirt in glam yellow, as in the famed photograph by Terry O’Neill, while the enduring combination of PVC pieces and tight trousers also pointedly expressed the rock ’n’ roll spirit.  

Images: Li Bohan

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Gen-Zheng


Award-winning HKPolyU MA student Jessica Zheng just could be the region’s next big thing in fashion design

Gen-Zheng


Award-winning HKPolyU MA student Jessica Zheng just could be the region’s next big thing in fashion design

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Gen-Zheng

January 30, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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When Chinese designer Jessica Zheng’s The Little Emperors collection appeared on the catwalk of The Mira hotel last June during the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s MA fashion show, the spirit of the onlookers rose with it. There had been some quirky and highly trend-driven collections, but Zheng’s was particularly distinguished from the rest by its boldness, exaggeration, decadence, eccentricity, satire, colour and, most importantly, humour. In its seemingly indulgent grandiosity, it felt like something of a design moment. 

Zheng believes fashion is the carrier of culture and a tool for narrative, and she considers herself as fashion storyteller. The collection, which mixes traditional Chinese weaving techniques with laser-cut technology, handmade silk and six different types of leather, is based on the 80s generation in China, when every family was allowed one child only. Zheng’s collection tells the story of growth and strife of this generation through the work – the obsessive and overly protective parental love, and how though everyone thought the generation would turn out to be the nation’s weakest they have worked hard, succeeded and overcome their ‘little emperor’ status. 

Six months later, Zheng won the Best of the Best Fashion Graduate Award, an initiative set up by the government-supported Fashion Asia Hong Kong. She cites a lofty group of designers as being inspiration: Iris van Herpen, “a haute couturist who creates works that push boundaries and uses materials that are specially created to communicate her concepts – her speciality is the use of rapid prototyping (3D printing)”; Alexander McQueen for his ability to “technologically transform garments from concepts into couture”; and Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake, who are “deconstructive designers, though their designs are so different.” 

With plans to head to the UK to continue her studies, Zheng credits PolyU’s Basia Szkutnicka, the programme director of the MA in Fashion and Textile Design, for much of the success of her collection. “Basia always had room for us to develop and find our own personality. She was leading me to arrive in my own space – she is experiential and unlimited. She specifically inspired my use of colour.” Previously, Zheng had tended to occupy the safety zone of black, but in this collection, she “finally created the red of my own.”

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Szkutnicka joined PolyU in 2017 and has a considerable fashion pedigree. She graduated from London’s Central Saint Martins and worked with mentor Isabella Blow on a series of avant-garde projects photographed by Karl Lagerfeld, Michael Roberts and Judy Blame. The former director of the study-abroad programme at the London College of Fashion for 15 years, she’s also the author of two books on fashion. At PolyU, she aims to produce “creative, forward-thinking designers who will be encouraged to evolve their personal design identity and bring a new proposal to the fashion landscape.”

In other words, Szkutnicka knows raw talent when she sees it – and such is Zheng. “Jessica’s work contains her design DNA, which sets her apart from many other young designers who don’t necessarily know who they are or are unable to express themselves visually,” she says. Szkutnicka thinks time spent in the UK can only be positive for Zheng. “Going to study the technical aspects of design in the UK will be highly beneficial for her, as it will place her in a dynamic, foreign environment that will stimulate new ideas and emotions. Plus, of course, she will be challenged with a higher level of design experimentation and practice.” 

Zheng already has a strong sense of her own fashion mission and hopes to launch her own brand shortly after. While she acknowledges Japanese designers like Miyake and Yamamoto, she wants to go beyond that influence. “Deconstruction does not follow the ruels of dressmaking – for example, the silhouette can be created however the designer chooses. My works will be different from these designers because it will be based on our country’s culture and traditional craft, which combines deconstruction and modern surface design technology.” 

A colleague on the same design course, Rue Li, who admired Zheng’s combination of “unique fabrics with poetic silhouettes” and is now working as a brand ambassador to help broker cult sneaker brand Andrew Kayla’s entry into China, thought the prize marked as much a significant cultural as an individual moment. “I think the winning prize is significant for both Jessica and all designers in China,” she says. “It showed the public what a designer does isn’t just about following the current trends, but also about keeping an eye on exploring the symbolic relationship between human beings and our society.” 

Szkutnicka thinks the sky could be the limit for the Guangdong-born designer. “Once she started to fly, there was no stopping her. I believe that she should start her own brand and I rarely encourage young designers to do this, as we have too much mediocre fashion product in the world already. But she has the drive, talent and ability to stand above the rest. She could, if she put her mind to it, become extremely successful and the next big designer to emerge in this part of the world.” 

As for Zheng the mission is clear: “I hope that I can be a communicator to show our culture to the international world. This is China, this is our culture.”  

Images: Leung Mo

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Boyy Meets Girl


This below-the-radar Thai-American label takes its next big step – to Milan

Boyy Meets Girl


This below-the-radar Thai-American label takes its next big step – to Milan

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Boyy Meets Girl

January 30, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

“Meet your new best friend, Boyy. He’ll be better than any male in your life – more stylish, well-built, will coordinate with your plans and will hold all of your belongings for you.” So runs the tagline on the website of progressive fashion retailer Browns on London’s South Molton Street above a list of covetable streamlined bags and shoes made of the highest-quality Italian leather, with names such as Karl 24, Green Romeo, Multicoloured Bobby and Blue Deon. 

Boyy is Italian-sourced, a label previously based in New York, then in Bangkok and soon to be relocated to Milan, that espouses the perfect combination of cool and classic – style beyond fashion. Your new best friend – if you haven’t met him or her yet – was set up in 2007 as the brainchild of Jesse Dorsey and Wannasiri Kongman, he an American musician and she a former buyer for Bangkok department store Central. The pair met by chance in New York at an event and instantly shared common creative ground in all matters style and aesthetic. 

Strolling the streets, Kongman pointed out what she liked when she saw it and, after months of noting It-bags, the pair decided fashion would make more sense if they created the bags themselves. Boyy was born, and its motifs are funky and quaint. With python, shagreen and croc exotica featuring prominently, the design, functionality and luxury of each product makes it a genre unto itself – and a must-have on Instagram, where the bag has been spotted on Kim Kardashian and the like. “Oh, I’m obsessed. Another @boyyboutique bag I need!” enthuses one of Boyy’s legions. “Want now… how to get?” implores another.

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For a face during its earliest days, Boyy used then-unknown Thai schoolgirl Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, more commonly known as Aokbab. The 22-year-old now models, acts, counts 465,000 Instagram followers and represents the house of Chanel in Asia. Writes Olga Yuen, Chanel’s fashion PR in Hong Kong, via email: “Aokbab and Boyy – yes! Totally. The brand really has an eye for style.”

Despite riding the contemporary waves of Instagram, Boyy was desirable long before IG. Like many below-the-radar labels, Boyy’s apocryphal moment came via a chance New York encounter with French singer, model and actress Lou Doillon, the daughter of Jane Birkin. A paparazzi shot of Doillon on the street sporting a Boyy bag, smoking and espousing insouciant French chic, set Instagram ablaze. It-girl Chloë Sevigny followed soon after and in the blink of an eye came a huge order from Colette’s Sarah Andelman in Paris. Boyy grew up – in a shot. 

Boyy now sells in more than 85 stores worldwide, including Selfridges in London and I.T (which has carried the brand since 2015) in Hong Kong. “It’s been popular in the market since our first launch in autumn/winter 2015,” says Candy Lau, I.T’s assistant merchandising manager, who oversees Boyy. “It always sells out within two weeks of the launch.” 

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And to what does she attribute its desirability? “Customers are attracted by its buckle with a masculine shape, as well as its fine quality,” she says, adding that Boyy produced a special bag in celebration of I.T’s 30th anniversary last year. “It also offers mid- and mini-size versions of its Karl and Bobby bags, in addition to its seasonal details of colour blocking and fabrications (such as shearling and PVC), which is fashion-forward and maintains freshness for customers.” Karl 24 has been Boyy’s best-selling product in Hong Kong over the last three years. Boyy has also started producing shoes and sunglasses, and is considering other categories, but won’t rush into them until the time feels right. 

And why should it? Boyy’s sales reached US$22 million in 2018 – from a brand that’s still independently run, has no internal PR strategists and does more or less what it pleases. The brand runs four boutiques in Thailand and one in Copenhagen, and Dorsey and Kongman are eyeing Hong Kong and the Middle East. So far, everything has been self-funded. 

“Hong Kong is very high on our list, but it’s not so simple,” says Dorsey. He explains that being a 100% independent brand means large corporates want reassurance that the label is affiliated with a big fashion conglomerate or distributor. “We encountered this hurdle in Bangkok when we first started putting down our footprint,” he says. “It’s a challenge we’re familiar with and have succeeded with. It just takes time.”

Despite the move to Milan, Boyy was still based in Bangkok at the time of print. “We are renovating what will be our permanent showroom/apartment in Milan. It’s an incredible space,” says Dorsey. Abundant with design history, the ground floor of the structure was boldly renovated in 1972 by Vittoriano Viganò, Italy’s most luminous brutalist architect, and the space has remained untouched since, capturing a living snapshot into an incredible era. The structure also boasts a huge private garden curated by Pietro Porcinai, one of Italy’s landscape design legends. “When I first saw the space, my jaw dropped,” enthuses Dorsey, who spent seven months closing the deal to acquire the space. “It was instant love.” 

While Dorsey and Kongman continue to broaden their horizons, there’s a ton of affiliations to keep them occupied. “We’re exercising the world of pop-ups and exclusives,” says Dorsey. “We’ve been bombarded with requests and are carefully curating the options, along with doing our own pop-up.” He explains that even though the quantities may be small and exclusive, each project requires almost equal energy and manpower as a regular season collection. It’s a lot of work, but it’s clearly worth it – much like the Boyy effect.  

Images: Provided to China Daily

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Poetry in Motion


The renowned haute couture house of Poiret is revived through a modern tribute to its namesake founder

Poetry in Motion


The renowned haute couture house of Poiret is revived through a modern tribute to its namesake founder

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Poetry in Motion 

January 16, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Influenced by Eastern cultures, French fashion designer Paul Poiret liberated women from the corset at the beginning of the 20th century. For his namesake maison Poiret’s autumn/winter 2018 collection, the relaunched brand’s artistic director, Yiqing Yin, blends playfulness, movement and personal expression. In this collection, dresses and coats reprise the cocoon shape for which the house’s founder was famed. A dress can be belted or loose, or worn back to front. Pieces such as oversized knits, shawl collars, harem trousers and Greenland lambskin coats express Yin’s pursuits towards minimalism and are imbued with a leisurely spirit. There are a variety of colours, with the classic ivory, grey and black alongside canary yellow and beyond. The concept of the“infinite” skirt can be found in the wrap jumpsuit, in jacquard or liquid silk. Paul Poiret was renowned for the “robe de minute”, a tunic made of two simple rectangles – and the industrial-inspired jewels and heels in this collection echo his groundbreaking designs – a fitting tribute to a master of haute couture.  

Images: Provided to China Daily

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New Forms of a Dress


Fashion photography, once thought frivolous, has become art’s rising star with a new visual language

New Forms of a Dress


Fashion photography, once thought frivolous, has become art’s rising star with a new visual language

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

New Forms of a Dress

January 16, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: Miles Aldridge, Home Works #3, 2008

At one time, not so very long ago, the only place to see a fashion photograph was in the pages of a magazine or possibly stuck to the wall of a teenage girl’s bedroom; but things have changed, with museums holding major exhibitions, galleries and auction houses selling fashion images, and publishers constantly releasing new titles devoted to fashion photography. Removed from its original context (the magazine page), fashion photography has become art’s rising star.  

The art world has become more receptive to the medium as museums have moved from high art to an all-embracing visual culture. For a long time, fashion photography was seen as exclusively commercial. However, contemporary photographers don’t necessarily conceive of their work as fitting into one single category or medium. 

In the 21st century, boundaries between editorial work, advertising work and personal work are now blurring. Digital media have changed the way photography is reported, consumed and shared. With the explosion of street-style blogs, Instagram and Pinterest, fashion photography has become the new visual language. 

And where the previous generation of visual icons such as Nick Knight, Paolo Roversi, Peter Lindbergh, Ellen von Unwerth and others set a new bar decades ago and still are, a new generation of photographers, Blommers and Schumm, Solve Sundsbo, Daniel Sannwalkd, Coco Capitan, Viviane Sassen and Erik Madigan Heck, are taking the lead and shooting fashion and beauty in such a way as to challenge the standardized ideals of fashion and beauty.  

They reject the notions of the hyper-sexualised body and celebrity driven fashion visions that represented the naked consumerism of the 2000s. Their fashion subjects are distorted and twisted, and the clothing has become a form of draping rather than dressing. Such a visual evolution has been mirrored by the rise of designers such as Demna Gvasalia and stylists such as Lotta Volkova across brands like Vetements and Balenciaga. 

Ultimately, as clothes horse has become character and the body has gone from being prop to plot detail, fashion photography has become a lens through which to see new ways of thinking about and discussing race, politics, gender, age and more. 

Handpicked by curator and art historian Nathalie Herschdorfer, Beyond Fashion at ArtisTree in Taikoo Place, features 100 of the finest photographic fashion works by more than 40 of today’s leading photographers, along with a selection of films accompanying the still images. (Until February 24, 2019). (taikooplace.com)

Nick Knight, Snakes for Alexander McQueen, 2009

Nick Knight, Snakes for Alexander McQueen, 2009

 
Erik Madigan Heck, Comme Des Garçons, 2017

Erik Madigan Heck, Comme Des Garçons, 2017

 

Images: © Miles Aldridge (1); © Erik Madigan Heck (2); © Nick Knight (3)

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Vanguardian Angel


Innovative Dutch designer Iris van Herpen continues to explore what tomorrow’s fashion may look like

Vanguardian Angel


Innovative Dutch designer Iris van Herpen continues to explore what tomorrow’s fashion may look like

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Vanguardian Angel

December 19, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Since starting her own label in 2007, Dutch designer Iris van Herpen has been presenting her complex fashion theory through wildly progressive, boundary-pushing creations. In Paris, she released her couture collection for autumn/winter 2018 under the banner of the science-themed Syntopia. Exploring the relationship between the organic and the inorganic, and developments in biology and technology, Van Herpen combines traditional weaving techniques with cutting-edge digitally designed weaving on coats and dresses. Laser-cut wool is woven with leather through parametric file technology and the Mimesis mini corset dresses showcase the soundwave patterns of birds, using unusual materials such as mylar, black cotton, red organza and transparent black acrylic sheets. For the show, Van Herpen collaborated with artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta of Studio Drift, who created a spatial kinetic installation called In 18 Steps, which consists of 18 delicate glass wings that abstractly represent all the different stages of flight. 

Images: Yannis Vlamos

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Holding Court


Zuhair Murad redefines elegance with his depiction of imperial Russian style

Holding Court


Zuhair Murad redefines elegance with his depiction of imperial Russian style

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Holding Court

December 19, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad has long been renowned for his extravagant court style. His autumn/winter 2018 couture collection was released in Paris and showcases a sense of aristocratic opulence with his depiction of imperial Russian style. Taking inspiration from a variety of Russian icons, from Elizabeth of Russia (famed for owning 15,000 gowns) to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Murad is committed to redefining contemporary elegance in this collection. In Russia, one tradition is that femininity is layered with military elements. Besides the royal touch, the collection also displays a rigorous, masculine flavour. The boyar-inspired jackets are decorated with royal eagle motifs, badges and corded detailing. With golden silk threads and matching short trousers, the dress coat in khaki duchess satin becomes a great example of blending ornamentation and functionality. For a long time, this brand has been a favourite of celebrities. In 2016, Chinese actress Ni Ni wore a white Zuhair Murad dress at the Cannes International Film Festival. The beautiful piece, with its deep V and split hemline design, grabbed a great deal of attention – for all the right reasons. 

Images: provided to China Daily

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In the Wind


Acclaimed Danish designer Henrik Vibskov continues to push the sartorial limits

In the Wind


Acclaimed Danish designer Henrik Vibskov continues to push the sartorial limits

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

In the Wind

November 21, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Previously the drummer of rock band Luksus, Danish designer Henrik Vibskov is committed to creating a fantasy world filled with outlandish, surrealistic elements. After graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2001, Vibskov has become an eminent designer who pushes as many boundaries as he can. After winning the 2011 Torsten and Wanja Söderberg Prize, which is awarded annually to “an active Nordic designer or craftsman”, he has risen to prominence as a leading figure among Scandinavian designers. Deeply influenced by his rocker experience, he believes that fashion should be a broader concept that includes music, dance and much more.

During Paris Fashion Week for the men’s spring/summer 2019 collections, Vibskov delivered his latest collection, with the theme Due to Sudden Weather Change. Inspired by the wind, which humankind uses in various ways, it details the designer’s idea that wind can be both a friend and a foe. Vintage-like “soap-opera” sweaters, Madras button-ups and other runway pieces are prime examples of his unique aesthetic standards. About the new collection, Vibskov explains that it’s a visualisation of how people can work with the wind – rather than against it. 

Images: Li BoHan

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Vestiaire Wear


In less than a decade, Vestiaire Collective has become the go-to for online sales of second-hand fashion

Vestiaire Wear


In less than a decade, Vestiaire Collective has become the go-to for online sales of second-hand fashion

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Vestiaire Wear

November 21, 2018 / by Kitty Go

Fanny Moizant

Fanny Moizant

There was a time when eBay was pretty much the only viable re-commerce platform around. But what if, in the years before 2009, you were a fashion lover who wanted to buy or sell top-quality designer clothing or accessories? Aside from eBay and its notorious unreliability for high-end goods, there was the inconvenience of buying from individual bloggers or (millennial shocker!) brick-and-mortar second-hand shops.

For Fanny Moizant, one of the six founders of online designer resale boutique Vestiaire Collective, it was that inconvenience of buying from bloggers that nudged her to start the online luxury consignment app, which currently has more than seven million users. “The lightbulb moment for us was that the girls with fashion blogs couldn’t maintain wearing new outfits every day and had to sell what they wore on their blogs,” explains the French tech entrepreneur, who moved from Paris to London in 2013, then to Hong Kong last year. “I was personally interested in buying, but the correspondence and payment was very inconvenient. I had to send an email, then a cheque or money transfer… It was a pain. So I decided to bring fashion people onto one platform based on trust, with a smooth trading process.” 

Moizant wanted the opposite of a timed bidding system like eBay’s. The app has a suggested selling price, but the final price is determined by the community after discussions (aka bargaining) between buyers and sellers. Bidding is market-driven, where people can strike a deal as soon as both parties agree on a price. The app makes buying and selling easy – members don’t have to keep checking back like auctions or eBay. To emphasise how fast buyers react to desirable stock, Moizant firmly says, “A good product with a good price goes without bidding.” Vestiaire Collective collects anywhere from 25% to 40% commission on sales.

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In terms of positioning and perception, Vestiaire Collective is the most luxurious and fashion-forward of the re-commerce sites. There’s something for everyone, from Zara (“super-special exception”) to exclusive Supreme drops, along with classics like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Hermès. The app currently has more than a million products online and accepts 35,000 new consignments every week. “This isn’t just a luxury website; it’s for everyone who loves fashion,” explains Moizant, who’s wearing a second-hand striped Chanel T-shirt and current-season Celine palazzos, which she will be selling online soon. “We want to show a panorama of fashion that reflects contemporary style of mixing high and low. Who wears head-to-toe Hermès? Some members are from the industry or in media, and many more from other careers or lifestyles – but the common thread among all our users is their passion for fashion.”

Moizant and her partners have also identified a changing attitude towards the consumption, value and ownership of fashion items. Aside from being a trading platform, the app serves a new generation who values sharing and usage more than possession, who is addicted to newness, who doesn’t own a lot for various reasons, yet who has one eye on value and another on style. Vestiaire Collective ran a survey among its members and discovered that “buyers and sellers have a value mentality more accurate than ever,” explains Moizant. “When they buy something [at retail], they have a resale value in mind. Investment dressing used to be cost-per-wear, but now it’s ‘How much do I recoup if I spend $1,000?’”

She continues, “Vestiaire Collective facilitates a new and inspiring way of consuming fashion. You want new things, but you have to let go of others. We are closing this circle. This is not just a way of recycling, but slowing the pace of consumption, because it is going very fast – way too fast.” 

Vestiaire Collective remains a closely held private company. It has raised more than €100 million (including US$20 million from Condé Nast in 2013); according to Moizant, funding was “never a problem.” 

Being French was never a problem either – and in fact, has proved to be a great advantage. Although 65% of the business is generated outside France, its homeland is still the single biggest buying-and-selling market. 

“In this particular industry, a Parisian image gives undisputed credibility and heritage to any luxury brand,” elaborates Moizant. “It’s a good thing – and we are proud of our French DNA.” 

The company’s next biggest markets are the UK, Germany and the US, with “developed Asia” (Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia) quickly gaining more market share. Moizant also claims that China, Korea and Japan have grown organically for the company without any PR or marketing effort. Welcome to the future, where fashion is now at your fingertips. 


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Fanny Moizant’s Top Selling Tips

1. Use the app and read instructions carefully. Detailed photos and presentation are very important. 

2. Don’t try to hide defects, because our curation team will definitely see them when they receive your goods for vetting.

3. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and ask yourself how much you would pay for your item. If you do, you’ll understand rejection (if any) and become a successful seller.

Images: provided to China Daily

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Imaginary Visions


How the East inspired Yves Saint Laurent

Imaginary Visions


How the East inspired Yves Saint Laurent

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Imaginary Visions 

November 7, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Yves Saint Laurent conjured literal, literary and imaginary visions of Asia to distinguish his high-fashion creations. He reinterpreted the sumptuous cloaks of Indian sovereigns, while Imperial China inspired the autumn/winter 1977 collection. And though he hadn’t visited Beijing at that point (he ultimately made his first trip in the 1980s), he remarked: “Beijing remains a dazzling memory. The China that I had so often interpreted in my designs was exactly as I had imagined it. I have already dreamed about it so much.” He was fascinated by Japan, too, and a superb uchikake kabuki costume and a selection of prints representing courtesans bear witness to this passion. As the first temporary thematic exhibition since the opening of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris in October 2017, Yves Saint Laurent: Dreams of the Orient brings together more than 50 haute couture designs inspired by India, China and Japan. The world has got a lot smaller since, but the aesthetic ambition still feels large and dreamy. 

Images: © All rights reserved; Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris © Yves Saint Laurent

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Spicy Street


Among the stranger things seen at New York Fashion Week was a streetwear pop-up featuring images of famed Chinese chilli sauce brand Lao Gan Ma

Spicy Street


Among the stranger things seen at New York Fashion Week was a streetwear pop-up featuring images of famed Chinese chilli sauce brand Lao Gan Ma

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Spicy Street

November 7, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

At the recent New York Fashion Week, Tmall China Day vaulted Chinese fashion designers into the public’s eye. Organised by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Chinese online retail giant Tmall (owned by Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group), three rising Chinese brands – JNBY, Particle Fever and Angel Chen – made their runway debuts. 

Amid all the excitement, one famous Chinese woman who has absolutely nothing to do with the world of fashion also attracted a great deal of attention. She’s 70-year-old Guizhou native Tao Huabi, the founder of the well-known chilli sauce brand Lao Gan Ma, which means “old godmother” in English. Founded in 1997, Lao Gan Ma is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture and is pretty much everywhere that Chinese people live. Like sriracha, it’s branched out into the wider public consciousness through pages like the Lao Gan Ma Appreciation Society on Facebook, where members share their creative ways to enjoy the sauce, such as with avocado. 

But this was Tao’s time to be thrust into the fashion spotlight. Her iconic portrait from the jar’s label was printed on hoodies that were sold at Opening Ceremony’s store on Broadway. Besides Tao’s portrait, this chic red product also includes the phrases “sauces queen” and “national diva” (in Chinese) on the sleeves. Specially made black aprons with “sauces queen” and the Chinese characters for “Lao Gan Ma” were also on stylish offer. 

Interestingly, Lao Gan Ma wasn’t the only Chinese company involved in this crossover event. Famed herbal medicine brand Yunnan Baiyao and bottled water giant Hanyangquan also joined the party. The pop-up events at Fashion Week may have been relatively small, but these Chinese brands’ ambition to go global is clear. 

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Winter is Coming


As the mercury drops, 43-year-old Chinese brand Bosideng presents a stylish collection to keep you warm and snug

Winter is Coming


As the mercury drops, 43-year-old Chinese brand Bosideng presents a stylish collection to keep you warm and snug

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Winter is Coming

November 7, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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Chinese down-jacket maker Bosideng made quite a splash with the unveiling of its 2019 spring/summer collection at New York Fashion Week, challenging market-dominant brands including Moncler and Canada Goose. Committed to producing top-quality garments, Bosideng, founded in 1975, has long enjoyed a leading position in the Chinese market, much of that, has struggled to reach a younger audience. Unlike the older generation, who tend to focus more on warmth and durability, fashionability is part of the game for younger shoppers – and Bosideng hasn’t always ranked high on that scale. 

However, the brand’s New York Fashion Week debut could be the turning point to change all that. In cooperation with famed fashion stylist Law Roach, supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio walked the runway for Bosideng as Hollywood actors Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Renner watched from the front row. Featuring references to traditional Chinese architecture and painting, this much-anticipated show presented a blend of high-technology fabrics and ancient eastern cultural elements, with a palette of black, white and grey, adorned with touches of yellow, red and silver. The jackets are also practical, as the fabric is both waterproof and windproof. Winter is coming, but if you’re stuck out in the icy winds wearing a piece from this reborn Chinese clothing brand, you’ll certainly stay warm – and chic. 

Image: Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images North America / AFP

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Brand Aid


Luxury brands are looking to address sustainability and climate change for a healthy future

Brand Aid


Luxury brands are looking to address sustainability and climate change for a healthy future

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Brand Aid 

November 7, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Having a conscience is totally in this season. A recent report titled Disrupting Luxury: Creating Resilient Businesses in Times of Rapid Change makes specific recommendations to address climate change and biodiversity loss, with the participation of giants from the luxury sector including Kering (owner of Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga and numerous other brands), Cartier, Ralph Lauren, The Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels (owner of The Peninsula), and more.

“Many luxury companies came together to contribute to this report, signalling that while competition may be alive and well in the commercial space, luxury brands recommend that collaboration towards social and environmental progress is essential to the future of the industry,” writes Elisa Niemtzow, the managing director of BSR, a non-profit organisation that spearheads the Responsible Luxury Initiative that led the report. 

Disrupting Luxury advocates engaging in the circular economy to reduce waste and increase recycling, contributing a positive impact on society through business strategy and philanthropy, and increasing the transparency for consumers and investors about the progress made on such initiatives. 

Kering and H&M have also been working to address the clothes-to-landfill issue with the company Worn Again, whose recycling technology can separate and extract polyester and cotton from old or end-of-use clothing and textiles. Meanwhile, in the start-up sector, Fashion for Good is a global initiative that funds promising newcomers that conform to its “Five Goods” framework of “good materials, good economy, good energy, good water and good lives”. For the fashion and luxury sectors, sustainability appears to be the new extravagance. 

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Selves Set Free


Saudi film director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s The Wedding Singer’s Daughter delivers a game-changing message for Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales series

Selves Set Free


Saudi film director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s The Wedding Singer’s Daughter delivers a game-changing message for Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales series

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Selves Set Free

October 10, 2018 / by Sonia Altshuler

I want to continue making films. It’s hard to deal with societies that are very conservative, but patience pays off – especially with cinema, which in Saudi Arabia was illegal until recently
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It’s night-time in 1980s Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Glittery and glamorous heels climb out of cars. Women shrouded in traditional black abayas make their way into a wedding hall, where they reveal what’s underneath: dazzling dresses and wild hair. Their true selves are set free, unseen by the male gaze. There are strict segregation rules in Saudi weddings. All eyes and ears are on the wedding singer, until the electricity suddenly cuts out. “This is the worst wedding singer ever,” guests mutter condescendingly. Will the young daughter manage to save her mother’s dignity? 

The Wedding Singer’s Daughter, directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, is the 16th commission from the Miu Miu Women’s Tales short-film series, which each year premieres at the Venice Film Festival in September. The works invite contemporary female directors to investigate vanity and femininity in the 21st century; previous directors have included Dakota Fanning, Celia Rowlson-Hall and Chloë Sevigny. 

Al-Mansour felt a wedding was the best encapsulation of Saudi Arabia today. “I always felt a wedding is like the actual mirror of society in Saudi Arabia,” she explains. “We are always segregated and our societies are fragmented. People don’t really get together so much in Saudi Arabia, apart from weddings, schools, et cetera. In a society where music is illegal and forbidden, I wanted to capture that tenderness, and that kind of tension between the bigger society and people who entertain – those who are meant to bring joy and be celebrated… but that doesn’t happen so much in Saudi Arabia.” 

Known as the country’s only female film director, the success of Al-Mansour’s 2005 documentary Women Without Shadows influenced a new generation of filmmakers. Her inaugural feature, Wadjda, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2012, is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a female director. She also directed this year’s Mary Shelley, with Elle Fanning playing the lead role of the author. Al-Mansour is also the first artist from the Arabian Gulf region to be invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Al-Mansour’s game-changing career has mirrored the fortunes of Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been overseeing new freedoms – women can now drive (as of June this year), visit the cinema and work in shops. But Saudi women must still dress in abayas – full-length robes – and many but not all wear the niqab (face-covering veil). 

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“I want to continue making films,” says Al-Mansour. “It’s hard to deal with societies that are very conservative, but patience pays off – especially with cinema, which in Saudi Arabia was illegal until recently.” The Saudi government has given the go-ahead for her new film, The Perfect Candidate, to be shot in the country, with the backing of the new national Saudi Film Council. It’s a huge victory for the director. “I have backing and funding from the government now that cinema is legal again, so I will not be hiding in a van and I will be able to shoot in the streets – more relaxed, more engaged with the art.”

To substantiate the point about the growing narrative of feminine power, Al-Mansour cast Los Angeles-based Saudi pop singer Rotana Tarabzouni, a role model to women world over, as the wedding singer in The Wedding Singer’s Daughter. “I feel like I truly represent the growing pains of Saudi Arabia,” says Tarabzouni. “And I have lived on both sides of it. I think of myself and women of my generation as the necessary and exciting growing pains of any society going through a reform and artistic renaissance.”

“I’m really proud of Miu Miu doing all those Women’s Tales,” says Al-Mansour. “It’s often hard for women to tell their stories, especially in filmmaking – an industry so much controlled by men as financiers, producers or directors. Now, women are moving forward and having a safe working environment. My goal is not to condemn someone, but to try to make beautiful films. Women also need to support each other at the front and back of the camera to create solidarity and power. We can’t move alone. We have to focus together.” 

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All photographs by Brigitte Lacombe

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Pleasure and Pain


Powerful indicators of gender, class, status, wealth and sexual preferences, shoes define the path the human race continues to tread

Pleasure and Pain


Powerful indicators of gender, class, status, wealth and sexual preferences, shoes define the path the human race continues to tread

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Pleasure and Pain

October 10, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: Rainbow sandal by Salvatore Ferragamo

The Cinderella shoe designed by Swarovski

The Cinderella shoe designed by Swarovski

Shoes have caused pleasure and pain – often simultaneously – throughout history, and their designs have influenced human and societal behaviour. And perhaps above all other human appurtenances of dress, shoes hold the most distinct place as objects that, at their most basic, are intended to aid one of our most practical functions – transport – yet which have come to hold such symbolic and aesthetic importance. In some cases, they’re so far removed from functionality that they cause pain to their wearers. The glamour and desirability of such provocative creations tells us much about the complex and enduring link between suffering, sex and style. 

Charting the long development of shoes from ancient Egypt to the contemporary catwalk offers nothing less than a fascinating, alternative history of the world. It’s a chance to, quite literally, put yourself “in the shoes of the past”. The perception of shoes as signifiers of power and even objects of desire dates back many centuries. Indeed, their hold on our imagination is such that they have passed into myth and fiction, and their different meanings have become deeply embedded in our psyche from childhood. 

Extraordinary shoes feature as magical objects in stories and folklore from all over the world (from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes to Dorothy Gale’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz) – and modern myths include the concept of fairy-tale shoemakers, whose creations will magically transform the life of the wearer. Who doesn’t, for example, recognise the transformative power of Cinderella’s glass slipper? 

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Height is perhaps the most noticeable signifier of status and identity, and examples of elevating footwear can be found all over the world, making their wearers stand above the crowd. The pedestal-like chopine of late-16th- to early-17th-century Europe, which was particularly popular in Italy and Spain, transformed upper-class women into towering figures, sometimes so exceptionally high that their maids had to be used as human crutches.

And even when otherwise naked, wearers have expressed their status through decorative (but very tall) footwear. In China during the Qing Dynasty, elite Manchu women wore high, centrally heeled shoes, producing a distinctive swaying walk, while men wore shoes with stacked platforms. The geta, the traditional, simple wooden clog worn in Japan, became richly decorated for the nobility and took its wearer to extreme heights during the Edo period (1603–1868). Indian silver toe-knob sandals, known as paduka, were probably a wedding present to the bride in 19th-century India and, although mainly ceremonial, would make the bride stand out when they were worn, so that she was easily spotted and admired in the gathering.

Even when shoes appear to be functional and comfortable – like the soft, flat pumps favoured in the Western world for the first half of the 19th century (and the similar-looking ballet pumps today) – they can be as physically restrictive as high heels. The silk-satin uppers and very thin soles of such shoes were not made for walking, and in effect limited women to the domestic sphere.

This all changed with the arrival of the 20th century. Fashion Institute of New York curator Valerie Steele once suggested that some men exhibit an almost Pavlovian response to the sight of a woman in high heels. Shoes play an important part in what is culturally considered to be sexy and have long been objects of fetishism. The erotic aspects of footwear can be an empowering expression of sexuality or can identify the wearer as a passive source of pleasure.

The sexualisation and genderisation of high-heeled shoes, especially, exerts a constant fascination on the popular imagination and a particular way of walking – epitomised by the stylish wiggle of Marilyn Monroe, who is intimately associated with this phenomenon. The allure of high heels, it has been argued, is down to the way they force out a woman’s breasts and buttocks, and make her hips move from side to side as she walks. The attenuated position of the feet in high heels has even been compared to the flexed feet of a woman during orgasm.

Boots designed by Salvatore Ferragamo for Karen Mok’s recent concert series

Boots designed by Salvatore Ferragamo for Karen Mok’s recent concert series

Parakeet shoes by Caroline Groves

Parakeet shoes by Caroline Groves

Learn (and see) more at Pacific Place in Hong Kong as part of the touring Victoria & Albert Museum’s Pleasure and Pain exhibition. The collection of more than 140 pairs of shoes invites visitors to gaze at unique creations by the likes of contemporary legends including Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Salvatore Ferragamo. There’s also a capsule collection of shoes designed specifically for local celebrity icon Karen Mok on the occasion of her concerts, which have pushed the Hong Kong foot and shoe fetish envelope over the years, as well as those at her wedding, film appearances and luxury events. The Ferragamo HQ in Rome even has one with her name on it. Take the measure of mankind’s standing until October 28. 

A pair of paduka

A pair of paduka

The 90-degree high heel shoe called “Estelle”

The 90-degree high heel shoe called “Estelle”

Images: provided to China Daily

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All Dressed Up


Move over, cheongsam – the traditional hanfu is having its moment in China

All Dressed Up


Move over, cheongsam – the traditional hanfu is having its moment in China

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

All Dressed Up 

October 10, 2018 / by Nancy Qu

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When thinking about traditional Asian dress, what’s the first item that comes to mind? Is it the Japanese kimono, the Korean hanbok or the Chinese cheongsam? Though many regard the last as an enduring symbol of Chinese culture, some, especially those in the younger generation, have shifted their preferences to hanfu, a traditional costume that originated before the Han dynasty and has been popularised through TV and movies. 

A big supporter of hanfu, Chinese actress Xu Jiao impressed the world by wearing an exquisite piece to the Venice Film Festival last year. Featuring white gauze fabric, a black belt with beautiful fringe in the middle and an embroidered pattern of a golden bird, this V-neck hanfu dress is a great example that blends traditional and modern elements.

However, as of yet, the hanfu hasn’t grabbed as much attention as the kimono, the hanbok or the cheongsam. To address this, the popular blogger Miqiujun is determined to spread its culture around the world. With 16.8 million followers on her Weibo account, she now runs a brand called Jieziji with her husband. “As my parents and grandmother are tailors, I have had an interest in clothing and design since I was a little girl,” she says. “I took part in some hanfu activities in university and then started my own company four years ago.” 

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With her husband serving as the photographer, Miqiujun has put a plethora of gorgeous hanfu pictures on her Weibo. “I usually do my own haircut and make-up,” she explains. “In the second half of 2016, I shot a video about women in different dynasties and their ways of dressing up. I looked up many books and sometimes used pottery figurines to get useful information.” This hit video introduced four dynasties – Han, Tang, Song and Ming – as well as the women back then, their lifestyles and their pursuits of beauty.

Miqiujun has also started an outreach activity called Travel with Hanfu – a world tour to educate and showcase the garment in 15 countries and counting. “Our first stop was Nepal and we just came back from Japan,” she says. “Many people mistake the hanfu for a kimono or a hanbok. We explain the history; they also think it’s beautiful and want to give it a try. The cheongsam enjoys more popularity and wider recognition. But it would be great if people could also think of hanfu.” 

Images: Miqiujun

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Panavision Pink


There’s more to the colour pink than My Little Pony and ballerinas. From the aristocratic man to feminine glam, contemporary designers continue to subvert its oscillating associations

Panavision Pink


There’s more to the colour pink than My Little Pony and ballerinas. From the aristocratic man to feminine glam, contemporary designers continue to subvert its oscillating associations

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Panavision Pink

September 26, 2018 / by Sonia Altshuler

Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Colour corrects popular misconceptions, and encourages viewers to question clichés and received opinion. Ultimately, it demonstrates that “it is society that ‘makes’ colour, defines it and gives it meaning”, to quote colour historian Michel Pastoureau
Sweatshirt, featuring a photo of rapper Cam’ron wearing pink fur, circa 2003, anonymous donor

Sweatshirt, featuring a photo of rapper Cam’ron wearing pink fur, circa 2003, anonymous donor

Pink is one of the most divisive colours, yet attitudes towards the hue are changing as it shifts to something increasingly regarded as cool and androgynous. Although popularly associated with little girls, ballerinas and all things feminine, the stereotype of “pink for girls and blue for boys” only really gained traction in the United States in the mid-20th century; the symbolism of pink has varied greatly across world history. 

It’s no small irony that by the 18th century, pink was a new and highly fashionable unisex colour in Europe, in contrast to the 19th and 20th centuries, when pink became coded as a feminine colour. The New York Fashion Institute of Technology’s perky new exhibition Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Colour starts from the 18th-century premise, with a section titled “Pompadour Pink” featuring several 18th-century ensembles, including a woman’s pink robe à la Française, a man’s pink habit à la Française and a man’s pink banyan. By the 18th century, pink had also become a key component of painting and interior design. 

By placing men’s, women’s and children’s pink clothing from both Western and non-Western cultures (including those across Africa, India, Mexico and Japan) in a historical context, the show corrects popular misconceptions, and encourages viewers to question clichés and received opinion. Ultimately, it demonstrates that “it is society that ‘makes’ colour, defines it and gives it meaning”, to quote the colour historian Michel Pastoureau.

In India, for example, pink has long been worn by both men and women, while in Mexico, the colour Rosa Mexicano is associated with national identity. Western designers have drawn on these associations; as the famed fashion editor Diana Vreeland once said, “Pink is the navy blue of India.” Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli’s Shocking Pink was explicitly associated, in her mind, with Asia and Latin America.

There’s also a small section on the pink-versus-blue gender coding in children’s wear, a binary that was still in flux in the late 1920s, when opinion was divided as to whether pink was for boys or for girls. The final decision seems to have been influenced by publicity surrounding a millionaire’s purchase of the paintings Blue Boy and Pinkie. Reproductions of these are featured along with that of another 18th-century painting, Pink Boy

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The exhibition also traces declensions of pink; for example, how around 1900, pale pinks implied delicate, aristocratic femininity, while by 1912, a vibrant cherry pink was thought exotic. And while the 1920s is often referenced by Gabrielle Chanel’s Little Black Dress, pink in all iterations rose to popularity, crowned by Schiaparelli in the 1930s. 

A second gallery expands audience perspectives on pink and illustrates how designers are challenging traditional thought about the colour – such as Rei Kawakubo, the radical creative force behind Comme des Garçons, who has been influential with avant-garde collections such as Biker/Ballerina and 18th-Century Punk. The house of Valentino even recently produced T-shirts proclaiming that “Pink is Punk”. Never has pink seemed so Panavision after this show in New York, which runs until January 2019. 


Zandra Rhodes, ensemble, 1978, England, museum purchase

Zandra Rhodes, ensemble, 1978, England, museum purchase

DECLENSIONS OF PINK

The colour pink carries many layers of meaning, and even when it’s associated with girls and women, it can signify very different types of femininity – from sweet and innocent to edgy and erotic. Consider the names for different shades of pink: 

Baby pink, Ballet slipper pink, Barbie pink, Blush pink, Bordello pink, Bubblegum pink, Candy pink, Champagne pink, Cherry blossom pink, China pink, Congo pink, Coral pink, Cuba pink, Drunk Tank pink, Dusty pink, First Lady pink, Flamingo pink, Flesh pink, Fluorescent pink, French pink, Fuchsia pink, Hello Kitty pink, Hot pink, Hyacinth pink, Kissing pink, Lavender pink, Lingerie pink, Mamie pink, Mexican pink, Millennial pink, Naïve pink, Palette pink, Peach pink, Persian pink, Petal pink, Plaster pink, Pompadour pink, Porcelain pink, Princess pink, Psychedelic pink, Punk pink, Rose pink, Salmon pink, Shell pink, Shocking pink, Strawberry ice-cream pink, Sugar pink, Tranquilizing pink, Tumblr pink, Ultra pink, Watermelon pink, and Young Girl pink (rose jeune lle). 

Images: © The Museum at FIT

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Father Knows Best


Remember those ratty, embarrassing chunky sneakers your dad always wore? They’ve made a fashionable comeback around the world

Father Knows Best


Remember those ratty, embarrassing chunky sneakers your dad always wore? They’ve made a fashionable comeback around the world

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Father Knows Best

September 26, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Images above: Triple S trainers, Balenciaga(left); Archlight Sneaker – chunky, spring/summer 2018, Louis Vuitton (right)

If you think “dad shoes” (aka chunky sneakers) are woefully outdated and most suited to your father’s stinky feet, you’re way off the mark. Actually, dad shoes are a shining star in the fashion industry right now. 

Among them, there’s no doubt that Balenciaga’s Triple S series has caused a huge sensation since its debut. It’s called Triple S because the sole combines three elements: a basketball, running and training shoe. At nearly eight centimetres, its sensation of walking on the clouds, combined with the special brand stitching, drives its ongoing popularity.

Another big star is Louis Vuitton’s Archlight Sneaker series; the designs are futuristic, with a dramatically big curve in the middle of the arch. LV’s fashion show in the basement of the Louvre last year showed the world that the Archlight could add that perfect touch, no matter if it was paired with an exquisite brocade coat, a pair of boxing trousers or a chiffon dress embroidered with silvery sequins.

Dad shoes have saved celebrities’ feet lately, too, as they provide a fashionable way to strut down the red carpet while avoiding the pains of high heels. For those of us in the real world, it can be a little tricky to wear them in a stylish way that doesn’t look tacky. In general, dad shoes are a great match with silk stockings or bare legs. Go forth and experiment – now you can celebrate Father’s Day every day on your feet.  

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Never Resting


Time to count those sheep in style – with FRS aka For Restless Sleepers

Never Resting


Time to count those sheep in style – with FRS aka For Restless Sleepers

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Never Resting

September 26, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

As the founder and creative director of Italian sleepwear company FRS (For Restless Sleepers), Francesca Ruffini believes that pyjamas shouldn’t be limited to the bedroom – or the house, for that matter. Inspired by the elegance and the seductive bedroom attire of 1940s and ’50s Hollywood celebrities including Grace Kelly and Lauren Bacall, Ruffini designs eye-catching pieces with vintage prints that can take them into the eveningwear space, or even the office. Her autumn/winter 2018 collection focuses on modern lines and garments with a contemporary appeal. And, as colder weather approaches, the fabrics are getting warmer and richer. There are numerous deep and glossy colours this season, paired with smooth velvets and satin fabrics. One cheongsam tunic in the collection is even inspired by Eastern culture, reminiscent of the classic Wong Kar-wai movie In the Mood for Love.  

Images: provided to China Daily

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That’s A-OK


It-girl Kiko Mizuhara and her sister Yuka spread some happiness with an I.T Blue Block pop-up collaboration

That’s A-OK


It-girl Kiko Mizuhara and her sister Yuka spread some happiness with an I.T Blue Block pop-up collaboration

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

That’s A-OK

September 12, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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There are icons – and then there’s mega-wattage Kiko Mizuhara. The Japanese-American cultural polymath, based in Tokyo, is the 21st-century It-girl of the fast-paced global fashion aesthetic and digital ecosystem, mashing-up her singular stylish spin from haute couture to street fashion with effortless chic. That adaptability sees her walk the runway for heavyweights such as Dior, while she’s also brand ambassador for Dior Beauty and Coach, and represents a range of brands the likes of Adidas, Marc Jacobs and Diesel. 

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Little wonder, then, that Mizuhara has launched her own label last year, OK, through which she has collaborated in a pop-up store at I.T Blue Block in Causeway Bay’s Hysan Place. “I first had this idea to launch about one year ago and I founded this company with the name Office Kiko, or OK,” she says from inside the buzzy, happy and fun-festooned pop-up, sitting beside her similarly muse-y sister, Yuka, who DJed at the store’s launch party later that evening. “OK felt like a good name for the brand because everybody gets it and there’s an instant likeability about that. It’s simple and easy to remember.” 

The dynamic duo designed all the looks for their OK x I.T Blue Block collaboration, which incorporates colourful girly motifs – think blue skies and cotton-candy clouds – across a variety of products including accessories, swimwear, yukata and limited-edition pink crewneck T-shirts with embroidered peach-coloured Kiko logos. There’s also a special showroom featuring OK bedding and decorations, with pyjamas, slippers and socks. The pop-up is a joyous fantasy world. 

“I wanted to do the clouds because everywhere I go, I watch the sky,” says Mizuhara. “It always makes me happy. When you’re having a stressful day and you look up at the sky, you chill out and feel better. So for this very positive feeling and effect, I wanted the sky and also the idea of the rainbows – a sort of cute, happy element, with lots of flowers, butterflies, fruits and more. So designing wasn’t that hard. I went through all the old Japanese magazines from the ’90s and had a feeling about the patterns we wanted to go for.” 

The collection is also very affordable. “I know that many of my fans are young – say 12, 14, 16 or older – and they think because I’m in high-fashion, it will be expensive. But it’s not,” she says. Part of Mizuhara’s appeal is that she spends half of her life having couture imposed upon her – and knows all too well the rigours of wearing it. “Couture is not always easy to wear,” she says. “So when we designed for OK x I.T Blue Block, I didn’t want anything too complicated or hard to wear. Every product is affordable and young people get it.” 

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What’s Mizuhara’s style advice to a bunch of young girls or women who’ve never worn the traditional Japanese yukata, which features in the collection? “Well, two ways,” she explains. “It’s a whole set with three must-have items: the geta sandals, the obi [sash] – which is like a corset – and the yukata. So first, buy the whole set and wear it once. It’s nice to try it once if you haven’t. Otherwise, you should do it traditional, but mix it with accessories. So wear the obi and yukata with heels, or try off-shoulder and put a flip-dress underneath. You can do whatever you want!”

That could be a mantra for OK. The sisters have created an accompanying book that involves their Tokyo friends. “We wanted to make the book very special and artsy, with the art and visuals being very creative,” says Mizuhara. “So we used [Tokyo photographer] Monika Mogi; she’s my best friend and so talented.”

All of which gives OK a collective sense. “I think OK is like a platform for girls to have a feeling of belonging and friendship, and I feel like we didn’t really have that feeling in Asia yet; it’s a sort of girl-power feeling to the brand,” says Mizuhara. With openings in Hong Kong and Taiwan, OK is also launching in Indonesia and Thailand. “So far, it’s been amazing to see all of these girls enjoying our products and just being themselves.” 

In the meantime, Mizuhara’s OK will soon debut a collaboration with iconic Japanese shoe brand Esperanza from October 1; OK is also in discussions with Opening Ceremony. “They want to do something in Los Angeles,” she says. The multifaceted and much-in-demand Mizuhara also mentions upcoming projects with a transgender artist, a potential photo exhibition and a book with Yuka. For would-be Mizuharas in the making, head to Hysan Avenue before September 18; thereafter, I.T Blue Block will continue to sell Mizuhara’s wearable happiness as part of its retail attractions. And that’s A-OK with us. 

Images: provided to China Daily

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Athletics Ascendant


Witness the rise of Li-Ning as it skyrockets in the world of sports fashion

Athletics Ascendant


Witness the rise of Li-Ning as it skyrockets in the world of sports fashion

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Athletics Ascendant

September 12, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Li Ning / summer Olympics, August, 1984

Li Ning / summer Olympics, August, 1984

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It’s not just for sport anymore. At the recent New York and Paris Fashion Weeks, Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning unveiled athleisure-influenced collections, marking its impressive foray into the high-fashion industry. And with an innate ability to influence fashion trends, supermodel Bella Hadid (right) donned a white T-shirt with an eye-catching picture of the company’s eponymous founder in Paris. “We do not have any co-operation with her; she just likes our product and feels happy to wear it,” says Hong Yuru, the vice-president of Li-Ning. 

Founded in 1990 by Li Ning, the successful businessman and famed gymnastics world champion (who won six Olympic medals), this Beijing-based brand has enjoyed a leading role in the Chinese sports field for many years. However, since the New York show in February, Li-Ning has shifted its focus towards the world of style. 

At the Paris fashion gala in June, elements such as the Chinese characters for “China Li-Ning” and “gymnastics”, as well as the English slogan “Leaning on Li-Ning”, caught the public’s eye. Since these events, consumers in China and beyond have shown even more enthusiasm towards the brand. “This time, there is a new trend – many rich Chinese people are buying our products for their kids living overseas, which is a reverse of the past,” says Hong. “We are happy that as a Chinese brand, Li-Ning can make Chinese people proud and confident. And it’s really interesting that even during the hot days of summer, the thick hoodies from this collection can’t even keep up with the demand.” 

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The fashionable vintage-influenced design is quite a departure from Li-Ning’s previous products and the new image has proven to be a big surprise for many. “Designers this time around are all from the Li-Ning company; we didn’t co-operate with outside designers,” says Hong. “We have our own fostering system and the ability was there already. These two Fashion Weeks were a great chance to change people’s impressions of Li-Ning.”

After the warm reception, the brand’s not resting on its laurels. In August, a Li-Ning pop-up shop in Shenzhen, called Ning Space, lasted ten days, blending high fashion and sportswear. The mirrors and lighting there formed a fantasy world filled with technology and mixed concepts of space. “We have received numerous invitations for collaboration,” says Hong. “In the second half of 2018, we have plans for crossovers and joint co-operation.”

The proof’s in the numbers. On August 13, Li-Ning revealed its half-year performance, with a 17.9% rise year on year and RMB 4.713 billion in revenue in the first half of 2018. With that momentum, Li-Ning may have the potential to reach a milestone of RMB 10 billion in annual revenue this year.

“Worship of sports, champion quality and never being content with the current situation – these form the Li-Ning spirit,” says Hong. This 28-year-old Chinese sports brand has never stopped moving forward with ambition and confidence. In a fast-changing and rising China, there’s certainly much more to come from Li-Ning.  

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Images: Li-Ning; Li Bohan (male model); Getty Images/Pierre Suu (Bella Hadid); Jean-Claude Delmas / AFP

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Optical Collusion


Shady Character brings the flavour of film noir to eyewear – and style sleuths are hot on the trail

Optical Collusion


Shady Character brings the flavour of film noir to eyewear – and style sleuths are hot on the trail

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Optical Collusion

August 29, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Glasses don’t have to be geeky or gawky – now you can exude an air of fatalism and even a hint of menace with these ’70s throwbacks from Shady Character.

Like some nefarious conspiracy, the original brand was hatched in a basement in Manhattan back in the city’s Gotham days. It gained notoriety after conspiring with the James Dean Foundation to resurrect the movie star’s eyeglasses look. But it was to be a short-lived caper, as the eyewear racket was on the wane and the Shady crew had no choice but to pop a cap in it. 

Contrary to belief, the dead do tell tales, and the Shady legend eventually reached the ears of The Light Company in Japan. They made comic artist Aaron Lang an offer he couldn’t refuse, and he put pen to paper to exhume a few shifty types from the past – and from a familiar dystopian future – to sport the new Shady Character autumn/winter 2018 collection. Styles include Alpha, with classic Wellington frames, “bowtie” rivets and a “keyhole” nose bridge. These are fairly close to the James Dean model, but Alpha gives them a superfly ’70s flavour. Then there’s Mechanic, which combines Wellington and titanium frames, and features bowtie rivets adorning both arms and frame – channelling that Charles-Bronson-with-a-death-wish look. For the ladies, there’s Sailor, a clever reinterpretation of the Wellington frame with a slightly raised “cat’s eye” – perfect for dames with a burning secret.   

Word on the street is that there’s a Shady shipment coming in at the bay – Causeway Bay, to be exact – at I.T Hysan One, along with I.T Silvercord. But if you want to be in on the big buy, you’ll need to look for the elusive Neith brand kiosks. Shady Character offers models for both sunglasses and spectacles, and there’s a whisper that optometrists will be there to help with various lenses when the standalone store opens later in the year. Things look to be on the level. 

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Summer Sneakers


In the fast-forward world of fashion trends, sneakers are the darling of everyone. But with so many choices yet so little time as consumers, which pair will get you over the gain line with maximum style? See our crushes of the month at all price points. 

Summer Sneakers


In the fast-forward world of fashion trends, sneakers are the darling of everyone. But with so many choices yet so little time as consumers, which pair will get you over the gain line with maximum style? See our crushes of the month at all price points. 

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Summer Sneakers

August 29, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Sneakers or trainers need no introduction. They have invaded fashion from high street to haute couture as designers have experimented more and more. So which pair fits your look best this summer? Take a sneak peek at this CDLP selection.

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Chasing the Pavement


Ms Min: the journey from Taobao to Lane Crawford

Chasing the Pavement


Ms Min: the journey from Taobao to Lane Crawford

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Chasing the Pavement 

August 15, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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Before starting her own shop on Taobao, London College of Fashion graduate Min Liu worked with contemporary Dutch house Viktor & Rolf and high-end Canadian brand Ports 1961. She didn’t sell her own clothes at first, though; rather, she sold vintage fashion items sourced from all over the world, photographed by her in a whimsical style that mixed and matched the pieces with masks she bought in Europe. In 2010, she debuted the first fashion collection from her brand, Ms Min, on Taobao.

Within three years, Ms Min was noticed by high-end department store Lane Crawford and ended up being sold at its Shanghai flagship – she was one of the first three Chinese fashion brands selected by the store. A number of other renowned retailers followed, from Saks Fifth Avenue to Opening Ceremony. In 2016, Min opened her own boutique in Shanghai’s most lavish shopping district, in the Shanghai Centre next to Christian Louboutin.

Now based in Xiamen, the fashion designer conveys classical Chinese beauty through modern aesthetics; her statement is vibrant, sharp and feminine. For the spring/summer 2018 collection, she crafts traditional mulberry silk floral motifs in golden threads and bold orange colours. In 2017, Ms Min launched a rouge collection with cosmetics brand MAC, inspired by the Chinese mythology of “round sky and square earth” (tian yuan di fang), using the traditional girly make-up hues of red and pink with hints of gold and silver. It marked the fourth China-themed limited collection presented by the cosmetics brand, following collaborations with photographer Chen Man, jewellery designer Baobao Wan and fashion maverick Chris Chang.

Focusing on e-commerce or not seems to be a question facing many fashion brands, but Min thinks that Taobao has given her a great opportunity to stay close to the market from the very beginning of her business. And though she’s seen tremendous changes in the Chinese fashion market since she began – the rise of homegrown designers, global brands moving in and increased consumer purchasing power – she thinks there’s still plenty of room for independent domestic designers to grow.

Images: ©2018 Ms Min 闽ICP备11025064号-1 厦门旻刘服装有限公司

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The Little Master


Couture’s rebellious outsider Azzedine Alaïa and the exhibition he helped create before his death last year

The Little Master


Couture’s rebellious outsider Azzedine Alaïa and the exhibition he helped create before his death last year

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

The Little Master 

August 1, 2018 / by Sonia Altshuler

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There have been numerous tributes to Paris-based designer Azzedine Alaïa since his death last November, but none as pertinent as Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier at London’s Design Museum. Conceived and co-curated by the Tunisian-born master of the cloth, the first exhibition to be shown in the UK on the renowned designer spans his career from the early 1980s to his final works in 2017, and includes many of his greatest hits – the bandage dress, the zipped dress, the corset belt and the stretch body. His dresses have embraced the bodies of the world’s most seductive and successful women, and the name Alaïa was always synonymous with high glamour, sensuality, style, cut, self-confidence and independence. 

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Alaïa constructed each garment by hand and refused to bow to the pressures of Fashion Week deadlines, instead working to his own schedule. His collaborative approach earned him an esteemed client list including Greta Garbo, Grace Jones, Michelle Obama, Naomi Campbell and Rihanna. “My obsession is to make women beautiful,” said Alaïa. “When you create with that in mind, things can’t go out of fashion.” Ultimately, he dedicated his life to a more utopian vision than just fashion, believing that the clothes he made furthered the empowerment of women and became part of a broader cultural conversation. Says Jean-Paul Gaultier of the designer: “A big master! Brilliantly combining the technique, the sewing know-how, the tradition and the modernity!” See it all until October 7. (designmuseum.org

Images: © Pierre Antonie (colour images with background); Patrick Demarchelier (left); courtesy of Ellen von Unwerth (top right); ©Pierre Antoine, courtesy of the Palais Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris (black reptile dress); Azzedine Alaïa, 1998, courtesy of the Groninger Museum, Holland

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Blah, Blah, Blahnik


Renowned shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, about to open his first men’s store in London, is the subject of a retrospective in Toronto

Blah, Blah, Blahnik


Renowned shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, about to open his first men’s store in London, is the subject of a retrospective in Toronto

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Blah, Blah, Blahnik

July 18, 2018 / by Sonia Altshuler

Image above: Design for the film Marie Antoinette

If God had wanted us to wear flat shoes, he wouldn’t have invented Manolo Blahnik…
— Alexandra Shulman
Manolo Blahnik

Manolo Blahnik

His Instagram entry reads thus: “My shoes are not designs, they are gestures.” And, as British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman once quipped: “If God had wanted us to wear flat shoes, he wouldn’t have invented Manolo Blahnik.” This near-idolatrous position occupied by Blahnik in contemporary fashion reached a peak in recent years, when his shoes became the coveted favourites of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, and his regal collection was created for and popularised by Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette

In 20 years of temporary exhibitions at the Design Museum in London, the retrospective on Blahnik, staged in 2003, still holds the record for the most-visited exhibition in any week. Now Blahnik has announced he will open his first men’s shoe store in London, at Burlington Arcade this July; the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is also running Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes, a touring exhibition, until January 6, 2019. 

However, the path to this apotheosis began much earlier – in the early 1970s, through his association with maverick British designer Ossie Clark. The son of wealthy parents, Blahnik grew up in the Canary Islands, then moved to London in the late ’60s after a stint studying art in Paris. His parents had wanted him to be a diplomat, and he had studied politics and economics before changing tack. 

Like many such legends, Blahnik’s story contains one pivotal moment. Diana Vreeland, editor of US Vogue (and whose influence on fashion history has been far greater than any other fashion editor), hated his early attempts at couture and insisted he try his creative hand at shoe design instead. Blahnik obliged and opened a store in London’s fashionable Chelsea district, but faltered at first. He started with men’s shoes and quickly found that conventional restrictions hampered his creativity. At that moment, Blahnik might have disappeared for good, had Clark not invited him in 1971 to produce the shoes to accompany his next collection. 

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Blahnik’s flamboyant, experimental designs were the perfect accompaniment for Clark’s couture – and his Ossie shoe became iconic. However, his imaginative flair was as yet untempered by technical know-how, and the teetering shoes proved perilous to wear – “like walking on quicksand”, Blahnik later recalled. But comfort (or lack thereof) never stood in the way of fashion, especially in matters of shoes, and the visual bravura of his Ossies drew plaudits nonetheless; the designer, an inveterate socialite, found himself lionised. In 1974, he gained the distinction of becoming the first man to appear on the cover of British Vogue

The Vogue connection has defined Blahnik’s entire career. Even today, US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is rarely seen without her Blahnik slingbacks, which he designed for her in 1994 and which she has in numerous colour iterations. “I can’t remember the last time I wore anybody else’s shoes – I mean, I just don’t even look at them,” she claimed in a recent documentary on the shoemaker. And says supermodel Naomi Campbell, who knows his wares better than most: “Manolo is the king of shoes.”

1971 design for Ossie Clark

1971 design for Ossie Clark

Images: Courtesy of Manolo Blahnik; Carlo Draisci (Suntaxa)

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