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Fashion


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Fashion


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Avant-Garde Approach


Miuccia Prada invites four architects to create items using black nylon fabric: the ultimate icon of the brand

Avant-Garde Approach


Miuccia Prada invites four architects to create items using black nylon fabric: the ultimate icon of the brand

Lifestyle > Fashion


Avant-Garde Approach

June 6, 2018 / by Sonia Altshuler

The language we encounter here is like an archaeological find, as fascinating to us as ancient scrolls or coins, because we sense that its time is running out

— Jacques Herzog
  The reinterpreted frontal backpack by Rem Koolhaas for Prada Invites

The reinterpreted frontal backpack by Rem Koolhaas for Prada Invites

Italian designer Miuccia Prada has always been at the cutting edge of fashion’s drive. From countercultural fabric choices and subverting definitions of beauty to hiring architects to design her stores, as well as the brand’s foundations in Milan and Venice that show constantly revolving art exhibitions, Prada’s offerings have been ambitious and, in their finest manifestations, avant-garde. 

Now, the woman with the “ugly beauty” mantra has surprised the market again by inviting four celebrated creative minds to work on a unique item for her autumn/winter 2018 menswear collection. True to form, on this occasion Mrs Prada (as she’s called in-house) has switched the focus to the industrial side of the multifaceted Prada identity. Globally renowned architects Rem Koolhaas, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Herzog & de Meuron and Konstantin Grcic have been enlisted to work with a simple brief: to create an item using the black nylon fabric, considered a Prada icon. 

In 1984, Mrs Prada first introduced black nylon with the brand’s backpack. It served as the perfect representation of the designer’s nomadic, exploratory sensibilities, but also of her understanding of the principle of utilitarianism. Totem of style and travel piece combined, the fashion-meets-function item became the It-bag overnight. It was minimal, too, emblazoned only with Prada’s iconic triangular logo. The black nylon backpack was a high-low stunt of prescient proportions, a game-changer that is still coveted today.

Prada Invites – as the new initiative is called – brings together the architects to manifest four radically different approaches that investigate the poetic, practical, technical and aesthetic aspects of nylon. The Paris-based Bouroullec brothers have collaborated with a wide range of companies such as Cassina, Alessi, Samsung, Flos and more; their work covers a broad stretch from jewellery to structures, and from drawings to videos and photography. But this is their first time trying their hand at fashion design, so how did they find the project? 

“I’ve always liked the profiles of people – architects, painters and students – walking around with their art folders,” says Ronan Bouroullec. “The movement of that rectangle… its clear-cut, fixed geometry contrasting with the moving bodies. This project takes that geometry and instils it in a shoulder bag, with its inside gusset, low-fastening elastic bands and eyelets, and use of a single colour, which produces a subtle graphical playfulness.”

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The Munich-based Grcic has won numerous design awards and has curated exhibitions such as Design Real for London’s Serpentine Gallery, as well as building pavilions for the Venice and London Biennales. His style is pared down and minimal – “simplicity”, as he calls it – and for this project, he used maritime inspiration for his contribution. “The key reference for my proposal is the fishing vest, representing the idea of a bag, which is what the nylon material has been primarily used for, as a garment,” he explains. “My first thought was to recreate [German Fluxus artist] Joseph Beuys’ famous fishing vest in Prada black nylon. Later, I worked on two models that interpret the theme in a more abstract way: Apron and Hood.”

  Sketch for the shoulder bag designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec

Sketch for the shoulder bag designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec

Sketch for the shoulder bag designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec.jpg

Swiss phenoms Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron received the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 2001 and have assembled a veritable greatest-hits of work: Beijing’s National Stadium, aka the Bird’s Nest; the Tate Modern in London; the Pérez Art Museum Miami; and M+ in Hong Kong, due to open next year. Prada is a regular collaborator with Herzog & de Meuron, who build stores for the brand, but this was the inaugural fashion crossover. 

For the duo’s entry, Herzog has invoked language and its changing identity. “Language has lost its power – to persuade people with arguments or to enchant them with the poetry of words,” explains Herzog. “It was a weapon of enlightenment.” He argues that language has lost its seduction, becoming an empty vehicle of information. As such, he uses text as a design element, like a pattern or decoration, with entire passages almost like ornamental tattoos. “The language we encounter here is like an archaeological find, as fascinating to us as ancient scrolls or coins, because we sense that its time is running out,” he says. 

  Herzog & de Meuron’s contributions to the project are called Language Restraint

Herzog & de Meuron’s contributions to the project are called Language Restraint

  Konstantin Grcic’s design is inspired by Fluxus artist Joseph Beuys’ fishing vest

Konstantin Grcic’s design is inspired by Fluxus artist Joseph Beuys’ fishing vest

Last but not least is the towering figure of the Rotterdam-born Koolhaas, who runs Dutch architectural firm OMA. Currently a professor at Harvard, he has built the Fondazione Prada in Milan, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and the headquarters of China Central Television in Beijing, amongst others. 

Koolhaas has taken the same deconstructive approach to the Prada commission as he does on a building. “This project proposes a reinterpretation of the backpack, more suitable for the contemporary urban citizen,” he explains. “It is carried on the front so its contents are at any time accessible to the wearer. It is dimensioned to accommodate the devices that enable modern life to unfold, easily unpacked through convenient openings.” The smart countercultural thinking of back-to-front “gives a more intimate sense of ownership”, he adds. Which sounds a lot like Mrs Prada’s entire blueprint for design, doesn’t it?


Images: Courtesy of Prada

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Flower Power


A collection of artefacts from the illustrious Mexican artist Frida Kahlo
goes on display in London

Flower Power


A collection of artefacts from the illustrious Mexican artist Frida Kahlo
goes on display in London

Lifestyle > Fashion


Flower Power

June 6, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: Frida Kahlo on a bench, 1939

  Necklace of silver, enamel, turquoise and coral with hinged compartment, made by Matilde Poulat, Mexico City, c.1950, from the Museo Frida Kahlo

Necklace of silver, enamel, turquoise and coral with hinged compartment, made by Matilde Poulat, Mexico City, c.1950, from the Museo Frida Kahlo

Showing at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) this summer is the monumental exhibition Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, which will present an extraordinary collection of personal artefacts and clothing belonging to the iconic Mexican artist. Locked away for 50 years after her death, this collection has never before been exhibited outside Mexico. As part of the legacy and endurance of Kahlo’s influence, activist and model Adwoa Aboah will also chair a discussion on her experience of female representation in media and the importance of women creating their own image; Aboah is known not only for her individual style that has graced innumerable magazine covers and catwalks, but also for her passionate support of women, which led her to create online platform Gurls Talk. The exhibition opens on June 16. (vam.ac.uk)

 
  V&A exhibition book for  Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up 

V&A exhibition book for Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up 


Frida Style Express

Images: © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives (Frida Kahlo); Javier Hinojosa/© Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de México, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums (necklace); © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2018

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Poly Amour


Twenty-three students from Hong Kong’s fashion design programme at PolyU have created a unique sustainable collection for Swedish retail giant H&M

Poly Amour


Twenty-three students from Hong Kong’s fashion design programme at PolyU have created a unique sustainable collection for Swedish retail giant H&M

Lifestyle > Fashion


Poly Amour

May 23, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

 

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Sweden’s high-street retail giant H&M likes to push the envelope in terms of its sustainability, innovation and functionality. With its clout, the Stockholm-based company places itself at the cutting edge as it strives towards a toxic-free future for the fashion industry. H&M has made a pledge that by 2030, it will only use 100% recycled or other sustainably sourced materials in its clothing; currently, that figure stands at around 40%. 

Enter the brand’s tie-up with 23 students from Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), who have designed a full collection for the fashion brand.“It all started with a simple idea of asking students to explore sustainable design,” says Hanna Hallin, sustainability manager of H&M Greater China. “The team took this concept to the skies and created innovative, edgy and authentic pieces, challenging the way fashion is made and enjoyed today.” 

H&M already has an annual line called the Conscious Exclusive collection, which utilises and creates sustainable fabrics, with the long-term goals of having zero garments going to the landfill and saving on natural resources. Customers can see where the clothes were made, what materials were used and who made them. 

The PolyU designers’ collection is called Clothes We Live In, which translates into a collection of trans-seasonal, functional and modern pieces that are wearable 365 days a year. “Throughout the creative process, we have been very playful and innovative with our approaches to sustainability,” explains Basia Szkutnicka, a professor of practice and the director of the master’s programme in fashion and textile design at PolyU. And behind the 23 unique pieces of the collection are 23 students, who have focused on sustainable fashion by using deadstock fabric or unwanted garments. 

The capsule collection aims to break down conventional boundaries and doesn’t limit itself in terms of age, gender, season or occasion. Silhouettes are loose with a sportswear influence, while the style is edgy and contemporary. Among the standout pieces, the oversized unisex Jessica jacket is windproof due to the clever sealed-seam construction on the inside, which ensures there is no waste from the cutting in the fabric roll at the production stage. The quirky, almost surreal Luna coat is a transformable piece that becomes a soft duvet when fully opened – perfect for romantic adventurers in the mountains. The Shubhi three-piece, meanwhile, has numerous transformational possibilities and is somewhat Issey Miyake-esque in its multifunctional approach – from a top to trousers, or even from a skirt to a dress. 

Although the outfits are currently unavailable for sale, select pieces will be exhibited in the brand’s Causeway Bay store from June 5 to 11. The collaborative project marks the first time a group of students has designed such a bespoke collection anywhere for H&M – kudos to the designers for their future-forward fashion take.

Images: Master of Arts in Fashion & Textile Design at Hong Kong PolyU

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A Love Supreme


The spring accessories sale at Christie’s features price points for all

A Love Supreme


The spring accessories sale at Christie’s features price points for all

Lifestyle > Fashion


New Vintage

May 23, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

It’s not just art anymore. Increasingly, auction house Christie’s has been highlighting rare accessories. Fashionistas can swoon over a selection of coveted Hermès bags on May 30 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Chief among them is the elegant matte-grey Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 35, estimated at HK$600,000 to HK$800,000. 

Given the ever-growing appetite for men’s luxury products, Christie’s is also promoting a Louis Vuitton boxing set by Karl Lagerfeld, with a Louis Vuitton and Supreme backpack and jacket among the other goodies. 

“The demand for rare and fine handbags is surging in the Asia market,” explains Winsy Tsang, the Asia head of sales for handbags and accessories at Christie’s. “This season, we have more collectibles for men, while continuing to offer pieces that cater for day and night at every budget.”  Pieces start from HK$10,000. Get those paddles ready…

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Images: Provided to China Daily by Christie’s

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Corner the Market


Chinese handbag brand Zesh delivers luxury manufacturing at reasonable prices

Corner the Market


Chinese handbag brand Zesh delivers luxury manufacturing at reasonable prices

Lifestyle > Fashion


New Vintage

May 23, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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Established in 2014, the brand Zesh was founded in Shanghai by then-23-year-old Haoze Dong, a University of Southern California business school graduate and president of its Chinese Student Association. Specialising in contemporary, practical women’s handbags, Zesh’s prices range from RMB1,000 to RMB4,000.

Dong grew up in a family business that manufactured luxury handbags, which gave him the rare privilege of understanding how premium bags are made. Aiming to showcase the high level of quality that “Made in China” products can achieve, he works with local factories that have manufactured high-end bags for more than 20 years, as well as leather suppliers that have served luxury brands. Zesh’s team, which consists of young designers who studied and worked in Europe as well as industry veterans, is heavily inspired by modern architecture.  

The signature collection is called Cubelet, with bags featuring three corners – the fourth corner is “cut off” and covered by triangular hardware in gold or silver, inspired by deconstructivism. In Chinese, “someone with edges and corners” refers to the type of person who is uncompromising and firmly stands by their beliefs. With such implications, the brand says it wishes to design for women who have edges and corners – meaning they’re independent, imperfect and don’t blindly follow trends. 

With a clear focus on the millennial market, Dong thinks that the younger Chinese generation is open-minded and eager to embrace new things. In five years, he wishes to build Zesh into one of the biggest China-based handbag brands and to ultimately change people’s stereotypes about the country’s fashion as “a Chinese fashion brand that truly has a global influence on the industry,” explains the young entrepreneur. 

When Dong was studying overseas, he realised that many of his friends would avoid buying “Made in China” products. Today, this ambitious young man intends to overcome that mentality and let Zesh’s quality speak for itself.

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Images: © Zesh 2014-2017/www.zeshlife.com

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New Vintage


From the Silk Road to the neo-Chinese cityscape, Shiatzy Chen channels your urban goddess

New Vintage


From the Silk Road to the neo-Chinese cityscape, Shiatzy Chen channels your urban goddess

Lifestyle > Fashion


New Vintage

May 23, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Combine some 21st-century neo-Chinese chic with early 20th-century Gabrielle Chanel, then overlay the influence of eclectic adventurers and travellers across the ancient Silk Road, and the structure for Shiatzy Chen’s autumn/winter 2018 collection takes glamorous form. 

In a modern homage to the romantic spirit of this era, Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia, the brand’s founder and head designer, evokes the rich colours of Dunhuang and its majestic caves in the Chinese province of Gansu. 

A commercial trading centre between East and West containing 1,000-year-old examples of Buddhist art, this provenance suffuses the collection with a rich narrative of peony pink, pastel green, gingko yellow, indigo, beige, orange, bronze and ink black. 

The design palette embellishes intricate lines and abstract geometric patterns across short coats, bouffant skirts, sports jackets and Chinese-style robes, which evoke the heavenly beasts and flying goddesses adorning the walls of Dunhuang. Among the flamboyant fabrics are jacquard prints, colour-blocked wools, lace, organza and satin. 

The necessity for balance on the accessories side sees embroidered leather bucket bags with jade clasps and jade bracelet handles for the arms, and flats with straps and sneakers in black and white for the feet. Legendary and grounded, this contemporary silhouette’s one for the silky urban goddesses. 

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Images: Shiatzy Chen

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Check Mix


Can’t decide on stripes, plaids or tartans? Pro tip: wear them all together

Check Mix


Can’t decide on stripes, plaids or tartans? Pro tip: wear them all together

Lifestyle > Fashion


Check Mix

April 6, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Checks are huge this year, but forget that old stereotype of them being conservative. Creativity is essential to a winning ensemble, with a wide mix of chequered patterns, lines, squares and various geometric prints seen on the runways from Paris to New York. Modernity is another key to the look. Perfect your style with some standout hues: anything floral, wild and unconventional.

Missoni

Print mixology ◆ rainbow stripes ◆ light and breezy

 
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Hermès

Geometric beauty ◆ modernistic palette ◆ madras-style squares

 
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Daks

Day to night ◆ the classic double-breasted coat ◆ British chic

 
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Sacai

Asymmetrical ◆ semi-sheer ◆ art of hybridity

 
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Viktor & Rolf

Surrealism ◆ dimensional play ◆ hand-woven

 
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Images: Jean-François Jose (Hermès); Missoni; DAKS; Sacai; Viktor & Rolf

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Fashion Statement


From bold protest slogans to wearable tech, the humble T-shirt has gone through numerous incarnations, but one thing’s for certain: it’s never gone out of style

Fashion Statement


From bold protest slogans to wearable tech, the humble T-shirt has gone through numerous incarnations, but one thing’s for certain: it’s never gone out of style

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Fashion Statement

April 6, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Images above: “I Wear What I Want”

  T-shirt design by Beth Postle

T-shirt design by Beth Postle

Though it might seem to be the ultimate manifestation of 20th-century American mass consumerism or British punk protest culture, the T-shirt is much more than that. The ongoing London exhibition T-Shirt: Cult, Culture, Subversion at the Fashion and Textile Museum celebrates this historic, ubiquitous and universal garment. 

Decorated T-shaped tunics date back as far as the 5th century CE and screen-printing was documented during China’s Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE). In the modern era, the garment’s precursor was established in 1913 by the US Navy, whose regulation uniform kit included a lightweight short-sleeved white-cotton undervest. The first known literary usage came in 1920, when famed American writer F Scott Fitzgerald referenced the word “T-shirt” in his debut novel This Side of Paradise. That same year, the word was officially added to Webster’s Dictionary.

Today’s iconic screen-printed T-shirts came into full swing in the UK during the 1960s and ’70s – some prominent examples include the government’s “We Don’t Smoke” in 1969 and the Rolling Stones’ “Tongue and Lips” by John Pasche the following year. In 1971, punk pioneers Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren opened their legendary Let it Rock shop, which sold rock ’n’ roll memorabilia and slogan-adorned T-shirts. 

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  Vivienne Westwood protesting backstage

Vivienne Westwood protesting backstage

In 1977, Milton Glaser’s “I Love NY” design was unveiled as part of a new marketing campaign for the state of New York. Inspired by pop art, the iconic heart has become one of the most lucrative T-shirt designs of all time. 

As T-shirts transformed into identity platforms, the voice of political protest wasn’t far behind. Famed English fashion designer Katharine Hamnett met British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at London Fashion Week in 1984; the former wore a shirt that read “85% Don’t Want Pershing” – a reference to public opposition to the relocation of US missiles. (Two decades later, in 2003, Hamnett sent models down the catwalk wearing shirts with the slogan: “Stop War, Blair Out” during the Iraq War.) 

By the year 2000, the rise of fast fashion meant that more than two billion T-shirts were being sold each year – that’s about one for every three people on the planet and that figure has since risen. The endless push for consumerism has driven many designers towards a goal of sustainability. 

  Face No. 3 Jordan by Kitsch-22, 1977

Face No. 3 Jordan by Kitsch-22, 1977

Technology has started to play a role today – and the textile industry has seen lots of innovation. The first bulletproof T-shirt and another that could block up to 99% of UV rays arrived in 2010. Next, the world’s first programmable T-shirt – a collaboration between Ballantine’s and wearable tech company CuteCircuit – was born two years later, allowing its wearer to display status updates and more on an LCD screen. 

Then, the humble T-shirt seemed to go through the stratosphere. In 2013, for the centennial celebration of the garment’s provenance, French luxury purveyor Hermès released the most expensive T-shirt of all time, made entirely of crocodile skin and priced at US$91,500. A year later, “athleisure” overtook denim as the most popular shopping category and the release of Alexander Wang’s collection for H&M helped solidify the trend. Suddenly, T-shirts in lycra or neoprene, once reserved for the gym, became perfect for just about every other activity. 

Two years ago, Vetements released its now-notorious DHL T-shirt, noted as much for its “real-life meme” as for its US$300 price tag (an original purchased directly from DHL costs about US$7). In an Inception-esque move, this was followed by the launch of Vetememes, a parody brand drawing on the social media-fuelled success of the brand that left everyone wondering if the T-shirt had finally jumped the shark. 

But perhaps we’re moving into a simpler era where do-it-yourself T-shirts will take the lead. When everyone’s goal is to go viral, you don’t necessarily need a designer brand or a giant budget to create a style seen by millions. Last summer, during his performance at the Panorama Music Festival in New York City, singer Frank Ocean donned a shirt that read “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic when you could just be quiet?” Social media went ballistic – as did the business of 18-year-old Kayla Robison, who makes the T-shirt for her brand Green Box Shop, where it retails for just US$20. 

Maybe it’s back to basics – but whatever happens, this 5th-century icon looks as contemporary as ever. 

T-Shirt: Cult, Culture, Subversion is at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum until May 6. (ftmlondon.org) 

Images: Courtesy of Beth Postle; Graham Pearson (My Booze Hell); Marta Lamovsek (Vivienne Westwood Tshirt and Vivienne backstage protesting); Boneshaker Photography (The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist); photo: Susan A Barnett, published in T: A Typology of T-Shirts © 2014. All Rights Reserved (All Over Trump, Girl with Pearl Earring, I Wear What I Want); courtesy of Fashion and Textile Museum (Don’t Be a Waster, Single-Use Plastic is Never Fantastic); photo: Sheila Rock, courtesy of Paul Stolper Gallery (Face No.3 Jordan, 1977. Kitsch22); photo: Derek Hutchins, © Dove/White, courtesy of Paul Stolper Gallery (Exploding Mickey); Fashion and Textile Museum

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Around the World


French jeweller Lydia Courteille’s collections form a unique atlas, inspired by the flora, fauna and the history of her travels

Around the World


French jeweller Lydia Courteille’s collections form a unique atlas, inspired by the flora, fauna and the history of her travels

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Around the World

April 6, 2018 / by Philippe Dova

When Lydia Courteille created her brand in 1987, she initially focused on antique jewellery. After collecting and selling some 7,000 vintage pieces, she turned her hand to jewellery design. For more than 30 years, her haute joaillerie collections – each piece unique and quietly provocative – have been displayed with theatrical flair in her shop on the Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. She counts global celebrities among her fans, including Madonna, Karl Lagerfeld and Nicole Kidman.


  Designer Lydia Courteille

Designer Lydia Courteille

So how often do you introduce a new collection? 

I create a collection with a new theme every six months. Each one comprises around 30 unique pieces. 

Your Rosa del Inca collection, presented last January at the haute joaillerie event of Paris Fashion Week, was your 57th. Where do you get your boundless inspiration? 

Travel inspires me enormously. This collection is a tribute to rhodochrosite, the national stone of Argentina, which I discovered during a trip there; the Argentines call it Rosa del Inca. I was inspired by the different civilisations that have left their mark on the country’s history – the Mapuche, the Inca and, much later, the Spanish. The history, the folklore, the colours, the fabrics, the animals and the plants that I discover during my travels are inexhaustible sources of inspiration.

My previous collection, Un Automne à Pékin, was inspired by my visit to the Forbidden City when I was in the Chinese capital for an exhibition at Lane Crawford. There are lots of feng shui references, with grasshoppers, frogs, dragons and fish – animals that symbolise luck, wealth, prosperity and longevity. 

The colours of your designs are very soft and harmonious. 

That’s the intention of every collection, the source of its beauty. All the objects reinforce one another. There has to be a consistency in the colours and the shapes. It mustn’t be monotonous. It’s about creating a harmonious whole and that isn’t necessarily easy to achieve. When I start to design a piece, I first have to find the stones, then decide the subject, then the colours that I’ll be adding to create the finished work. Lastly, it has to tell a story and spark desire. 

How would you define yourself? Are you an artist? A jeweller?

I’m a dream merchant! [laughs] I sell dreams, stories and beauty – at least I hope I do! I think a woman should be beautiful when she wears the jewellery. When she holds the object in her hand, she has to feel a love for it. It has to be well made, rare and precious – and above all, there has to be a story behind every piece.

Images: © Lydia Courteille 2016

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Fringe Binge


It shimmers, it sways, it’s a little bit festive – and it’s everywhere this year! Thankfully, fringe is actually practical to wear as well. See our picks, based on different budgets, to help you with some smarter shopping

Fringe Binge


It shimmers, it sways, it’s a little bit festive – and it’s everywhere this year! Thankfully, fringe is actually practical to wear as well. See our picks, based on different budgets, to help you with some smarter shopping

Lifestyle > Fashion


Fringe Binge

April 6, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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Tracking the Trends


Expect glitter and lots of sparks this year. From the luxury powerhouses to the boutique labels, the spring/summer 2018 collections indicate that we’re in for a year of innovative fashion. Here are some of the most prominent elements that are worth a look in your wardrobe this season

Tracking the Trends


Expect glitter and lots of sparks this year. From the luxury powerhouses to the boutique labels, the spring/summer 2018 collections indicate that we’re in for a year of innovative fashion. Here are some of the most prominent elements that are worth a look in your wardrobe this season

Lifestyle > Fashion


Tracking the Trends

March 2, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Bling Thing

Start with a glittery dress, or take the look head-to-toe – just remember, there’s a fine line between ostentatious and glamorous. The style can be enhanced with a matching sparkling ensemble (as at Mary Katrantzou) or more subtle when paired with a monochrome top (Molly Goddard).

 
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Artistic Touch

This season, stay inspired by the canvas. Luxury powerhouses such as Prada and Versace are spicing up pieces with their odes to the arts – be it graffiti, pop art, collage or even watercolours, as seen at Céline.

 
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Utilitarian Chic 

Shorts are essential for warmer weather, but you’d better make sure they’re practical – with belts and multiple pockets. With a focus on neutrals and comfortable materials, they’re probably not going to be the standouts of your ensemble, but they’ll probably match every outfit.

 
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Fringe Fever

It’s time to get a little frivolous. This season, long fringe has been spotted flowing all over – on shoulders, waists and legs. When accompanied by feathers and coloured threads, it harks back to the 1920s flapper era and makes a great party look today.

 
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Country Garden

For a perfect spring outfit, florals are always in. Abandon all those over-the-top flower patterns, though; instead, opt for subtle micro-prints and pastel shades. In essence, go as natural as possible. 

 
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Glamour Punk

Plaid, leather and fishnets get a feminine makeover, from Wolk Morais’ fitted tailoring to Balmain’s mermaid tail. Punk stylings return to the catwalk with a refined, graceful take on unconventionality.

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Images: Fendi; Versace; Céline; Kamil Kustosz/Molly Goddard; Chloé; Balmain; TOM FORD; Mary Katrantzou; Stella McCartney; ©Paco Rabanne; Prada; Instagram @wolkmorais (Wolk Morais); Getty Images (Tadashi Shoji); Sandro

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Plastic Fantastic


The très chic fashion comeback in 2018 – are you a material girl?

Plastic Fantastic


The très chic fashion comeback in 2018 – are you a material girl?

Lifestyle > Fashion


Plastic Fantastic

March 2, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: Three models wearing waterproof coats, circa 1965

  Look from the resort 2018 collection, Chanel

Look from the resort 2018 collection, Chanel

Andy Warhol once famously said of the denizens of Los Angeles: “They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic – but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.” The fashion world definitely agrees with these magical polymers this year – the cool, shiny, futuristic material. 

The use of plastic in fashion started around the 1920s, when a range of colours were introduced to Bakelite, an early synthetic plastic that was developed in 1907 for mass production purposes; famed fashion designer Coco Chanel created jewellery in Bakelite. Her rival of the time, Elsa Schiaparelli, also applied this material to buttons. Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, was plasticised in 1926. The shiny plastic-coated fabric of polyester looks like patent leather, but it’s glossier and even cheaper, making for a great substitute.

The wild 1960s ushered in a new era of embracing boldness, energy and contrasting beauty; this happened alongside the rise of pop art and the youth fashion movement. Mary Quant, the Welsh fashion designer and style icon of the period, rose to fame with her miniskirts, pinafore dresses and shiny, plastic raincoats – her bright colourways and dynamic prints still make for a mischievously chic expression today. 

The comeback of plastic in fashion raged back in earnest last year, spotted on a range of designs from street fashion to luxury brands. Calvin Klein’s autumn 2017 ready-to-wear collection introduced a number of plastic-covered jackets for both men and women, as well as dresses; the translucent material reminds one of a plastic sofa cover – what’s underneath
ranges from a plaid wool jacket or a sheer silk dress to a dyed fur coat. Yeezy, Kanye West’s footwear brand, introduced a pair of thigh-high boots in entirely transparent PVC as part of its Season Four collection. 

Wonder what haute rainwear looks like? Check out Karl Lagerfeld’s spring 2018 runway show for Chanel – it was held in the Grand Palais in Paris with a waterfall as the backdrop. The luxury brand interpreted waterproof fashion in a very Chanel way, such as styling the classic tweed jacket with a variety of clear PVC accessories, including bucket hats, raincoats, rain capes, gloves, boots and handbags.

This year, are you ready to be one of the plastic people?

Images: Jamie Hodgson/Getty Images (1960s models); CHANEL; Yeezy; Acne Studios; Valextra

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Cute as a Button


If you think those humble fasteners on your clothes are mundane fashion items, give them a second look. Parisian collector Brigitte Renaud opens the doors of her haberdashery for an exclusive visit  

Cute as a Button


If you think those humble fasteners on your clothes are mundane fashion items, give them a second look. Parisian collector Brigitte Renaud opens the doors of her haberdashery for an exclusive visit  

Lifestyle > Fashion


Cute as a Button

March 2, 2018 / by Marine Orlova

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You don’t seem to take much notice of these items until they’re missing. But how many shirts and coats sit for months in dark closets because of a lost button? Although they’re indispensable, buttons probably don’t seem like the most exciting part of a garment. 

Yet there was a time when they were precious accessories and symbols of social status. Buttons only became affordable with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, when mass production gave birth to the iconic four-hole model. But during the Middle Ages, they were made with gold and remained the privilege of the wealthy; numerous buttons on a jacket meant plenty of money in the pockets. Buttons reached the peak of popularity during the 18th century, when King Louis XIV of France made them most fashionable. He (and, subsequently, all the courtiers) donned jewel-like buttons made with a variety of precious stones, or adorned with highly sophisticated miniature paintings – these buttons often cost more than the whole outfit. 

In her vibrant Parisian haberdashery, Brigitte Renaud has amassed a unique collection of buttons from the late 19th and 20th centuries. Carefully arranged by colour, material and style, they look like so many candies. “The buttons say a lot about the origin and the time of clothes,” says Renaud. “They’re precious testimonies of the technical advances and the artistic movements of an era. For example, the buttons from the ’30s were often made with newly invented plastics such as Bakelite, Galalite or Lucite, and were infused with art deco patterns.”

Hovering at the junction of art and design, did you know that artists such as Alberto Giacometti, Fernand Léger, Sonia Delaunay and Pablo Picasso created buttons? Between the two World Wars, renowned Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli made innovative and arty buttons her trademark. “She worked with Lucien Weingott, a peculiar artist who created buttons in his kitchen with all kinds of natural materials: seeds, nut shells, resins,” explains Renaud. 

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Buttons designed for children’s fashion are among the cutest ones in Renaud’s collection. Brightly coloured and made of wood, plastic or ceramic, they often represent small animals or cartoon characters. “Before the ’60s, people spent a lot of time making children’s clothes,” she explains. “Though expensive, the buttons really mattered – they were the icing on the cake.” When asked about the fragility of porcelain or glass buttons, she answers: “They can last for years with good care. Keep in mind that these materials were used before the ’50s and the invention of the washing machine. People washed their clothes by hand – and probably less often than we do now.” 

It’s unfortunate that today’s fashion landscape gives less importance to buttons – all the more so as they’re a reliable indicator of a garment’s quality. But the good news is you can change the buttons of your clothes to make them your own and give them a second life. To choose the right ones, remember that they must subtly enhance your look without grabbing all the attention. “One must first notice how stylish your jacket is, not how amazing your buttons are,” says Renaud. Keep the biggest ones for your coats – trimmed ones are very elegant on fur – and pick some tiny glass ones to accessorise your silk shirts. Why not fasten a large cape with a single stylish button, à la Schiaparelli? But definitely use a solid sewing thread – or you may lose your precious treasures!

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Images: Marine Orlova

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Classic Contrast


Colour is everything – but black and white is more

Classic Contrast


Colour is everything – but black and white is more

Lifestyle > Fashion


Classic Contrast

March 2, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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Double Happiness


H&M’s head of design, Ann-Sofie Johansson, on the challenges of making fashion sustainable and sustainability fashionable 

Double Happiness


H&M’s head of design, Ann-Sofie Johansson, on the challenges of making fashion sustainable and sustainability fashionable 

Lifestyle > Fashion


Double Happiness

March 2, 2018 / by Olivia James

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Some people say sustainable fashion can only comes when we change the business model – when profit doesn’t drive everything. 

We want to change the model. We’re a big business, but we want to move into circularity, and the vision is to lead that change towards circular and renewable fashion. Yes, we think that’s kind of a ballsy vision – as it should be. We know people will always love fashion; I love fashion. But we want to know that what we consume is good. Moving into circularity is because we know resources are scarce and we can’t go on using things in the same way we have for the last 30 years. Circularity is both our mantra and our vision, so we can continue to make new fashion out of the old. And we do have some tough goals – by 2030, all the fabrics we create will be from sustainable sources. 

How tough is that to achieve? 

It’s quite tough, because we don’t have those fabrics yet today. We have organic cotton and we have recycled polyester, but there’s only so much you can do with these fabrics. For a smaller range, we have our Conscious Exclusive collection, which is limited. In that, we try out new sustainable fabrics, which hopefully can be scaled up and applied to more of our collections, but there are challenges. 

What are those challenges? 

Well, there are new fabrics on the market, like grape leather, for example, but the quantity is just so small. So the crucial part is scaling up for us. But we also invest in a lot of different companies and work with scientists. Here, we work with the Hong Kong Research Institute for Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA). The non-profit H&M Foundation did a collaboration with HKRITA; together we have – or they have – come up with a groundbreaking innovation, which is how to recycle blended fabrics. Recycling up to now has been mechanically made, where materials are ripped apart into separate ones. But with this innovation, we can recycle blended materials without any quality loss. For us, that’s really exciting, and also scalable on a larger and more practical level. This applies to all fashion businesses, not just H&M. That will be interesting to watch. The CEO of HKRITA, Edwin Keh, is someone you should talk to – he’s scientific and also really candid about the challenges. 

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Do you think people’s clothing labels will one day proclaim: “Made in such and such a laboratory”? 

Maybe! We want to be as transparent as possible – to say this product is grown from this, or to identify a waste product that has been used. Like grape leather, for example – the leftovers from the wine industry. So now we all have to start drinking more wine! There’s something called orange fibre from the citrus peel, which could become something new. 

On the topic of scale, you mentioned grape debris. How much of that is needed to make one bag? 

It’s very hard to say with grape debris. The only thing I know is that we do Conscious Exclusives once per year. Last year [in April] we had a dress made from bionic yarn, which comes from plastic waste gathered from the shorelines of China. I can tell you that 89 plastic bottles went into that one dress. And it was really beautiful, too. It’s a good concrete example of this whole process. 

What challenges are there that you feel consumers don’t understand about the sustainability debate? 

For us, it’s still a question of making fashion that people want to wear. We have to be able to merge the two worlds even better – to make sustainability fashionable and fashion sustainable. That’s the challenge and that’s what Conscious Exclusive is about. We can make really beautiful clothes today using sustainable fabrics and make it all fashionable, because making sustainable clothes just for the sake of sustainability, without making them fashionable, makes no sense. That’s also not sustainable. 

How much thought is given to how recyclable a collection is at the end of its life cycle? 

To be honest, not enough – we’re not there yet. Again, it’s the marriage of sustainability and fashion. Everybody working at H&M, every designer, knows that we get opportunities and they know our values; they know the fabrics they can choose from. But I wish we could do more – and we have to, especially with 2030 in mind. Though now, with recycling and scientific breakthroughs like recycling-blended fabrics, it has become a bit easier. 

What happens to fast fashion when sustainability catches up? 

You know, we don’t like this term,“fast fashion”. But I met a professor in England who was thinking of extending the idea further in this way – what if we want to buy a top for going out on Saturday night; could we make it disposable? For example, after you wear it, it disappears, breaks down into cells or fibres, and can be recycled in a new way. You enjoy the party top, then it fades. That changes people’s reaction to “fast fashion” – from something intrinsically bad to something very progressive. We all love new things, we want new things, and this is a way to find novelty and turn that into something positive. We want to do good. That’s also why we want to be on top of change and lead. 

Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen talks about not even wearing clothes in the conventional sense. 

She’s right! And think about this: maybe you can just scan the image of what you want to wear onto yourself. So you would have, say, a body stocking, and you just scan a picture of that perfect print or the hue you want to wear, or something like that. It’s a sort of virtual reality.

Image: Courtesy of H&M

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Go Luxe or Save Bucks


Stylish sweaters and animal-inspired prints are all the rage; the former keeps your body warm and the latter makes a bold statement. We’ve picked a few key pieces at a variety of price points to help you manage your style and your bank account at the same time

Go Luxe or Save Bucks


Stylish sweaters and animal-inspired prints are all the rage; the former keeps your body warm and the latter makes a bold statement. We’ve picked a few key pieces at a variety of price points to help you manage your style and your bank account at the same time

Lifestyle > Fashion


Go Luxe or Save Bucks

January 26, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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Pride and Passion


Top-notch Chinese couturier Guo Pei is exhibiting 46 pieces of haute couture craftsmanship in Atlanta through March 4, including the famous “dragon robe” Rihanna wore in 2015

Pride and Passion


Top-notch Chinese couturier Guo Pei is exhibiting 46 pieces of haute couture craftsmanship in Atlanta through March 4, including the famous “dragon robe” Rihanna wore in 2015

Lifestyle > Fashion


Pride and Passion

January 26, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

image above: Guo Pei

 
  The famed “dragon robe”, 2015

The famed “dragon robe”, 2015

  An intricate look from the autumn 2017 couture collection

An intricate look from the autumn 2017 couture collection

   A creation for Garden of Soul, Guo’s collaboration with cosmetics giant MAC

 A creation for Garden of Soul, Guo’s collaboration with cosmetics giant MAC

 

Born and raised in the 1960s in Beijing, Guo Pei is the most renowned Chinese designer in haute couture. In 2015, when Rihanna wore Guo’s imperial yellow cape gown to the annual Met Gala in New York (the theme that year was “China: Through the Looking Glass”), the designer’s name and fame went truly international – but she didn’t know who Rihanna was when the pop singer approached her for a dress. 

The voluminous gown, dubbed the “dragon robe” on Chinese social media, is now on display at the designer’s solo exhibition Guo Pei: Couture Beyond, being held until March 4 at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film in Atlanta. The dress – featuring a 16-foot train and weighing 25kg – epitomises Guo’s laborious production methods. Also known as “magnificent gold” (or da jin in Putonghua), it was the designer’s first haute couture masterpiece and her most important one. The dress features real gold threads and fine embroidery, and took her team of nearly 500 artisans some 50,000 hours to make. 

How did Guo rise to the top of Chinese haute couture? In 1986, she graduated from the Beijing Second Light Industry School as one of the country’s earliest students to major in fashion design – just nine years after the national university entrance exam resumed in 1977. Guo grew up during the Cultural Revolution, an era of hardship when any adornment and individualism was strictly prohibited, and she wore only neutral-coloured and plain garments. But she was determined to become one of China’s first fashion designers. 

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After ten years of designing for major Chinese manufacturers, Guo left her stable career path and started Rose Studio in 1997. It was a decision to pursue her artistic freedom – to design and express herself without constraints. 

In China, Guo became widely recognised for the gowns and costume dresses she designed for the female hosts of the CCTV Spring Festival Gala; the Lunar New Year’s Eve programme is the most-viewed television event in the country. In 2008, she designed an elegant shoulder-baring dress for Zhang Ziyi to wear at the torch lighting ceremony in Athens, in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics. The experienced couturier didn’t go with the actress’s original plan for a qipao, but made a piece that conveys traditional Chinese elements through a modern silhouette and intricate cutting. 

In 2016, Guo became the first Chinese designer invited to join the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the prestigious French regulatory body, which also allowed Guo to make her debut show that year at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. 

Today, as the designer’s name and fame has outshined her previous Rose Studio label, the haute couturier has finally launched an eponymous brand, together with a new studio in the upscale boutique shopping district on the Rue Saint Honoré in Paris, targeting an international clientele. 

Blending elements of traditional Chinese culture with a modern presentation, and aesthetics that communicate with both East and West, Guo’s haute couture craftsmanship stands proudly, showcasing her lifelong passion for fashion and her decades of expertise in dressmaking.  

  Sketch for Story of the Dragon, 2012

Sketch for Story of the Dragon, 2012

Spring 2018 Couture

Images: Guo Pei/Guo Pei Rose Studio (portrait); Guo Pei (Garden of Soul, AW17 couture); Savannah College of Art and Design/SCAD (sketch and shoes); Photos by BOBO (Spring 2018 Couture)

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A Step Up


Once essential accessories for male soldiers, high heels have transformed to represent wealth, nobility and a manifestation of provocative beauty

A Step Up


Once essential accessories for male soldiers, high heels have transformed to represent wealth, nobility and a manifestation of provocative beauty

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

A Step Up

January 26, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

  Louis XIV of France, painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701

Louis XIV of France, painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701

Manolo Blahnik once said, “You put high heels on – and you change.” In modern times, glamorous sky-high heels may be of little practicality, but dating back to the 10th century, they were essential accessories for men in battle in the Near East. 

Shoes with heels are widely considered to have originated from the Persian Empire. Cavalry in the region wore heeled boots to stay mounted on their horses; with the heels providing a crucial security measure, the arrow-shooting riders could stand in the stirrups while the horses galloped. Later, these practical riding boots transformed into cowboy boots in the US. 

In Europe during the Middle Ages, pattens were heeled overshoes that both men and women would slip on before heading out. The heels, which were usually wooden-soled, could elevate the foot above the grime at street level – as sewage systems and water pipes weren’t a feature of medieval towns, it was common to throw garbage and human waste into the streets. In the 15th century, leather pattens became fashionable and in London, a wealth of new styles emerged including multi-layered leather soles, ones with narrow, elongated toes, and shoes that could be worn over hosiery. 

Similar to pattens, chopines were also platform shoes, but worn exclusively by women. Believed to have been created in 15th-century Turkey, chopines were adopted by the Venetians from the 15th to 18th century, and were popularly worn by courtesans and patricians.

These ultra-high heels – which could rise up to some 75cm above the ground – were deemed a representation of prestige and the fragility of woman. But the inconvenience of chopines sparked rumours that they had been invented by men who wanted to prevent their wives from engaging in illicit affairs by making it difficult to walk. Chopines were lavishly embellished, with beautiful decorations such as embroidery, gold lace and leatherwork, forever linking high heels with the feminine aesthetic. 

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In the most iconic portrait of Louis XIV, created by French painter Hyacinthe Rigaud in 1701, the king of France sported red heels over tights. For the portrait, the famously short man – at 162cm, he often wore wigs to exaggerate his height – purposely posed with one leg stretched out to make his frame look elongated.

As photography emerged in the 19th century, high heels made a perfect beauty enhancement in pictures. This reached a fever pitch in the 1940s, when the famed pin-up girls posed in high heels in most of their photographs, drawings and posters. Though these pin-ups were popular during wartime in the men’s barracks, it was after the Second World War ended when stilettos were invented; among those credited with popularising the innovation are Salvatore Ferragamo, Roger Vivier and André Perugia. The thin, long and often ultra-high heels also became an item commonly worshiped in fetish subcultures. 

Today, high heels are a glamorous staple of every woman’s wardrobe and, as designers continue to innovate, the future of heels is seemingly unlimited. 

 

Reconstruction of a Venetian-era chopine, on display at the Shoe Museum in Switzerland

Pulp cover for Flirt magazine, April 1953, by American pin-up artist Peter Driben

Images: Wikimedia Commons: Rama & the Shoe Museum in Lausanne/Creative Commons (Venetian chopine, background removed)

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Rainbow Reign


The spring 2018 palette from global colour giant Pantone is inspired by London and New York’s Fashion Weeks

Rainbow Reign


The spring 2018 palette from global colour giant Pantone is inspired by London and New York’s Fashion Weeks

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Rainbow Reign

January 26, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Back in 1963, the founder of the New Jersey-based corporation Pantone, Lawrence Herbert, developed a standardised colour matching system that’s today the most widely used system for designers and artists. For decades, the company’s
Pantone Colour Institute has garnered loads of publicity for its annual “colour of the year” announcement every December. For 2018, it’s Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that’s referred to as mysterious, spiritual and intuitive. 

All this isn’t just for design, of course; fashion is a focus for Pantone, too. In September, the institute released its fashion colour trend report for spring 2018. Romantic, sentimental and refreshing, the spring palette features 12 hues from London and New York’s Fashion Weeks, with several shared between the two. Also for the first time, four classic colours that transcend seasons have been highlighted. According to Pantone, encouraging self-expression and feelings of optimism and confidence are the key messages it aims to convey with this particular palette.


New York Fashion Week

Most of the colour names are fairly self-explanatory, though a few require some detail. The slightly bluish-green Arcadia gets its name from the “unspoiled land” in Greece, situated on the country’s Peloponnese peninsula. Emperador is named for the world’s largest brandy maker, originally from the Philippines. And Almost Mauve, which doesn’t quite look like the pale-purple mauve we’re accustomed to, seems closer to beige or off-white. 

 
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London Fashion Week 

Two rosy shades and Pink Lavender, which is also a soft violet rose, arouse the tender sentiments and affectionate charms associated with the season. Spiced Apple, which highlights brown with a red undertone, adds a hint of warmth and substance; it corresponds to the chocolate-infused brown Emperador and the earthy brown-based red Chilli Oil in the New York palette. 

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Classic Colours

They don’t call them classics for nothing. A great combination of warm and cool, light and deep, the four neutral shades are suitable for men’s and women’s wardrobes all year round. If you’re bored with that cold-toned pure white, plain warm-toned vanilla white, or grey-toned off-white, the rich Coconut Milk offers a nice alternative.

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Images: Instagram: @halpernstudio; Marques Almeida; Delpozo; Roksanda; Christopher Kane; Teatum Jones; Mary Katrantzou; Tory Burch; Victor Boyko (A.W.A.K.E.); Tibi; Carolina Herrera New York; Maje; Pedro García; Pantone LLC

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Evening of Dreams


With the arrival of the holidays, it’s time to bust out those sartorial standouts – be it a sequined tuxedo jacket, a velvet bow tie, luxurious tweed or thigh-high boots. Like British poet Alfred Tennyson wrote in the play The Foresters, “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier’”

Evening of Dreams


With the arrival of the holidays, it’s time to bust out those sartorial standouts – be it a sequined tuxedo jacket, a velvet bow tie, luxurious tweed or thigh-high boots. Like British poet Alfred Tennyson wrote in the play The Foresters, “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier’”

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Evening of Dreams

December 1, 2017 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

The Tuxedo Jacket

Stay true to conventions, opt for a little something different – or find the perfect in-between. The slim-fit single-breasted jacket in a rich fabric, from cotton velvet to a wool-cashmere blend, ticks all the boxes for a special occasion, from wedding parties to black-tie affairs. If you’re looking for a stylish twist, consider creative material combinations such as leather and canvas. For a more standout statement, an iridescent tuxedo with sequins and embellished details makes for the immaculate rock ’n’ roll gentleman.

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Other Than Black… 

The traditional suit colour sticks to navy, black or grey, but any hue can be you – just make sure the jacket and trousers are a perfect match. Teal blue, olive green, yellowish orange… the choices are pretty much unlimited. For different shades on the same ensemble, consider elegant neutral tones such as camel and khaki. The layered look could include a shirt or a turtleneck, a blazer, and an overcoat to keep warm. 

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Accessorise Away

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Belle de Soir

A winning dress helps capture a woman’s grace from day to night. Silhouette options vary widely, such as a sensuously patterned pyjama-style wrap coat, the minimally structured above-the-knee Stella McCartney cocktail dress and the romantically voluminous Zac Posen dress worn by Kate Upton. 

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Wonder Woman

Metallics, wild motifs, dyed fur and thigh-high boots… the vast array of powerful and stylish elements create a compelling ensemble for the queen of the party. 

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The Colourful Life

A candy-like palette – from neons to primary colours – lights up the evening until the wee hours. Take the very pleasurable, eye-catching SS18 collection from La Perla as an example, which features see-through and thick textures; the key message is to let the colours do the talking. 

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Images: Suitsupply; Fendi; Boglioli; Flag Clothing Ltd, T/A Richard James; Tateossian; Prada; Coach; Berluti; Tom Ford; Jimmy Choo; President Srl/FRS; Stella McCartney; House of Z/Zac Posen; Balmain (Photo: Pascal Dangin); Manolo Blahnik; Gucci; Roger Vivier; La Perla; Instagram: @chester_barrie (Chester Barrie); @zegnaofficial (Ermenegildo Zegna); @givenchyofficial (Givenchy); @michaelkors (Michael Kors)

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Family Matters


Half a century ago, Loretta Caponi started her first embroidery shop, offering bespoke services to high-profile clients in Florence – and last year, the family-owned brand finally launched its first retail collection worldwide

Family Matters


Half a century ago, Loretta Caponi started her first embroidery shop, offering bespoke services to high-profile clients in Florence – and last year, the family-owned brand finally launched its first retail collection worldwide

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Family Matters

December 1, 2017 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

 

  Guido Caponi's potrait

Guido Caponi's potrait

Elegant Florence-based embroidery brand Loretta Caponi got its start in 1967 when its eponymous founder, who had been honing her embroidery skills since the age of nine, opened her first shop on Borgo Ognissanti, a road named for the baroque-style Ognissanti church. 

Loretta, who died in 2015 at the age of 91, was a staple of the high-society scene in Florence. As her brand’s renown grew wider, bespoke services began to extend to an overseas clientele, from royal families including the House of Windsor and the House of Orange-Nassau to celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Madonna and George Clooney. 

Half a century later, the brand is now helmed by the third generation – Guido Caponi, Loretta’s grandson, who returned to the family business after completing a law degree. His mother, Lucia Caponi, is still in charge of design as the brand’s creative director. “You’re going to get a degree, then come back,” Guido recalled his mother saying after he had finished high school and was working in storage in the atelier – and she was right.

After 50 years in the bespoke business, the brand finally released a ready-to-wear collection last year – and spring/summer 2018 marched into Hong Kong this October, marking its first stop in Asia, with a collection mixing heritage pieces inspired by the family’s private collection from the Renaissance period with new items including lingerie, robes and houseware linens. All the brand’s products are made in its main atelier in Florence and in three dedicated workshops in Tuscany, and the embroidery work remains entirely handcrafted. The brand’s signature embroidery technique is called catanella, a stitching technique from the 9th century that can blend up to 100 colours in a single garment. 

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If you look at the reverse side of Loretta Caponi’s embroidery, it looks nearly the same as the front, which is what Guido considers the defining feature that differentiates the brand from others. Lucia, on the other hand, tells Guido that the matching of colours is what matters most. Out of thousands of choices, it can take the mother and son a month to decide what threads to use. 

It appears the brand’s creative spirit is still firmly harnessed by Lucia, who designs everything that comes out of the main atelier. “She never goes out,” jokes Guido. “She needs to be alone to create, just like my grandfather, who had the same ‘problem’.” For Loretta Caponi, it seems creation is a family affair.

Images: André Lucat (SS18 RTW); Alek Pierre (Guido Caponi)

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Time of the Season


Spring forward with an awakening and a wardrobe refresh – from fur to florals – courtesy of these five fashion houses

Time of the Season


Spring forward with an awakening and a wardrobe refresh – from fur to florals – courtesy of these five fashion houses

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Time of the Season

October 27, 2017 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

 

Though it may feel like we’re just entering the hibernation period, the fashion world never sleeps. Enter the spring 2018 collections from Marni, Simonetta Ravizza, Fendi, Simone Rocha and Giambattista Valli, in which material and colour both play key roles, while contemporary romantic motifs are giving us glimpses of what’s to come.

The combination of light and heavy materials is a theme for spring – silk, knit, wool, leather, and especially fur – that served as the luxurious drawing board for Marni, Simonetta Ravizza and Fendi. A modern colour palette prevails, too, from soft rosy touches (such as Giambattista Valli’s pastel pink) to strong, luscious hues that emphasise contrast. And let’s not forget the garden fairies and flowers in the ultimate toast to spring. Floral motifs prevailed, especially at Simone Rocha, where the elegantly quirky silhouettes are inspiring a rethink of romanticism.

Cheerful, elegant, sumptuous – if these collections aren’t an indicator of good fortune to come next year, at the very least they’ll make for an especially beautiful spring.

 
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Fendi

Keywords: Italian futurism ◆ stripes and checks  ◆ technical fur

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Giambattista Valli

Keywords: Ode to spring ◆ translucent ruffles ◆ dreamy meets utilitarian


 
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Simone Rocha

Keywords: Garden fairy-inspired ◆ washed silk ◆ collapsing frills ◆ romanticism


 
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Simonetta Ravizza

Keywords: Playful furs ◆ fire-red leather ◆ the Furrissima bag


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Marni

Keywords: English garden ◆ furry pillow clutch ◆ large silhouettes

Images: Monica Feudi (Simonetta Ravizza); Fendi; Giovanni Giannoni (Marni); Simone Rocha; Giambattista Valli

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