China is now open for business in a big way when it comes to world class fashion.
A book named Fashion China, written by Gemma A. Williams; introduces us to 41 exciting Chinese designers. Her book shows the real world of Chinese fashion. Abandoning the typical stereotypes, Fashion China shows that the far from traditional, the aesthetics are diverse, unique and experimental.
“The field of fashion in China today has now opened up as a ground of experimentation and possibility.” This quote from Hung Huang is featured in the foreword to Fashion China, and is inarguably demonstrated throughout the publication. Gemma teaches us about the world of Chinese fashion throughout the book, explaining how the beginning of the Chinese fashion movement really started in 2010, when Fan Bingbing wore a yellow and gold Laurence Xu gown to the Cannes film festival. According to Gemma, five years earlier it would not even have been possible to buy from Chinese designers, even within China itself. We will be seeing more and more Chinese designers climbing to international fame in the coming years, and here are ten of the designers you should be watching.
BABYGHOST The brand is only four years old- designed by Josh Hupper and Qiaron Huang in their studio on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. ‘Babyghost’ has grown a cult following with their cheeky streetwear, producing items such as a logo sweatshirt with Disney script; a camo taffeta bomber with exposed quilted lining over a floor-length, tartan silk chiffon dress and sneakers; and a slouchy, black, faux astrakhan coat with skintight, over-the-knee boots. The look is both tough and feminine, mixing harsh graphics with gentle textures. This half-Chinese half- American brand is proving more popular in China than in the US.
YIQING YIN Following working for Cacharel, Yin has now become a guest member of Paris’ Chambre Syndicale de le Haute Couture, allowing her to show her collection during Paris Couture Fashion Week. Yin was born in China and raised in Paris, and began designing clothes in her apartment in 2010. Yin’s pieces are artful and seamless, and her namesake label is present in stores in China, Hong Kong and Milan. Yin has been incredibly successful in a very short time, and last year was named as the Creative Director of French brand Leonard.
This eponymous label is the work of a graduate of womenswear at Central Saint Martins fashion college. Ma studied the works of Alexander McQueen and Louise Wilson, and launched her own label in 2008. The brand has fans such as Naomi Campbell and Lady Gaga, and has a quirky and sci-fi style. ‘Masha Ma’ encompasses bras worn over jackets, simple turtleneck dresses, feathered wrap skirts and embroidered surgical face masks. Ma splits her time between Shanghai and Paris.
This brand began in 2010. It started as a collaborative art project in Berlin, and then became a unisex label, and now exists as a lifestyle brand. ‘ffiXXed’ is the creation of Fiona Lau and Kain Picken, and it overlaps the male and females collections with their unisex approach. The designs are made in neutral colors and comfortable shapes, as well as many layers. Both men and women are provided with clothing such as polka-dot tunics over leggings, tweed-paneled topcoats over blazers that over sweaters which in turn are over collared shirts, and gray wrap skirts over loose trousers. The label is a fusion of fashion and fine art, with a appreciation of fine quality.
BAN XIAO XUE
‘Ban Xiao Xue’ is still a very young label, as this self titled label was created in 2012. The same year, Xue won the Asian final of the International Woolmark Prize. Xue is known for his use of silk, wool and other natural fibers, and he creates new silhouettes, changes textures and fuses together the old and new China with traditional embroidery on modern materials. Xue uses his work to replicate life and form through his art.
‘Guo Pei’ is another designers with a eponymous label. Pei is an established designer, who is most well known for making Rihanna’s dress at the most recent Met Gala. The dress was breathtaking- a yellow and gold robe with a fur trim, reportedly weighing in at 55 pounds! Pei has been creating her designs for an amazing 28 years, and designed 280 looks for the opening and closing of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was this Olympic feat that shot Pei to fame. Pei’s pieces have motifs of cloud, water and waves.
A model presents a creation by Chinese designer Guo Pei in “The Arabian 1002th Night” show during Fashion Week in Singapore. (Edgar Su/Reuters photo)
Yang Li is another young designer, having been in the industry for only four years. However, he is already gaining traction as a designer with his ‘grunge romantic’ designs. The items are ready-to-wear, with floor sweeping chiffon skirts, unfinished tees, graphics and denim and leather details. Li plays with texture, structure and fine details. Li is an international man, having been born in Beijing, raised in Australia and educated in London- and this lifestyle shows in his uber-cool designs.
Zhang is another international designer, having been born in China, lived in New Zealand, Paris, and then studied at Central Saint Martins fashion school. Zhang is one of London’s leading new designers, known for his pieces that bring together not only East and West, but also modernity and tradition. His work has been archived by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and he is also a winner of the Dorchester Fashion Prize. Zhang graduated from Central Saint Martin’s in 2010, and spent his final year working at the house of Dior in the Haute Couture studio. It was his time at Dior that inspired Zhang in his career to create beautiful and intricate items.
Another graduate of Central Saint Martins is Dido Liu. Liu graduated in 2012, and created her brand ‘Deepmoss’ in 2013. Liu is known for her draping ability, as she wants to create soft silhouettes for women, saying that the strength and power should be on the inside. These romantic pieces are created without restrictions on the age, the time and the season, and are aimed to give an elegant soul to a smart woman.
‘Fake Natoo’ is the brainchild of Zhang Na, and she certainly has spend a lot of time working on her fashion label. Na trained in fine arts for seven years in Shaanxi, at the Xi’an Academy Fine Arts; and also briefly trained in Paris, at MOD’ART International- and this all shows in her work. Na’s pieces are absolutely beautiful, with incredible layering, texturing and tailoring- yet they are also wearable. Some of Na’s pieces include dyed jacquards, embroidered Chinese silks, checked cashmere coats with thigh high slits, a pink ballet dress and a dip-dye coat. Na is quickly becoming one of the most well known names in the Chinese fashion.