City dresses to thrill
Sashaying down the catwalk with poise and panache, a willowy Chinese model turns heads and triggers flash bulbs in a crimson, figure-hugging qipao. With a slit back and short sleeves, this innovative take on the mainland's most traditional item of female attire embodies the avant-garde face of contemporary Chinese couture. And what better place to showcase this slinky second skin than Dalian, one of China's most vibrant hotbeds of fashion.
First staged way back in 1988, the China International Garment and Textile Fair (CIGF), commonly known as Dalian Fashion Week, has now reached the first tier of the mainland's internationally themed events. Held every September, this six-day extravaganza of cutting-edge clothing brings together celebrities, models, fashion agents and fabric manufacturers from all over the world, showcasing some of the latest developments in the global fashion industry.
'Dalian is a city that is becoming increasingly well known on the international fashion circuit,' says Andy Liu, a member of the CIGF's international department. 'Spearheaded by the fashion week, Dalian is now not only the pre-eminent fashion industry hub in northeast Asia, but also an extremely important channel between China and the international fashion community, as evidenced by the large number of overseas labels and buyers that regularly attend the city's shows.
'In total, 400 exhibitors and thousands of models from 14 countries and regions, and 50 other Chinese cities attended the CIGF last year. The event helped Dalian, China's fashion industry in general and the international fashion world forge many productive relationships. It generated a lot of business.'
CIGF 2011, which ran from September 3 to 8, looks to have built on its predecessor's commercial success. Exhibitors from 15 countries and regions featured, with participants from across North America, Europe and Asia, alongside some from Macau and Taiwan. There were also more than 400 clothing producers from 40 mainland cities, plus 90 overseas brands. According to officials, more than 300 domestic garment and textile enterprises reached almost 200 agreements of intent with overseas purchasers.
In addition to enhancing trade ties, Liu believes the CIGF also gives young designers, Chinese and international, the perfect platform to showcase their creativity.
'Last year, we invited fashion designers from Spain, Italy, France, Japan and South Korea. This year's event featured exciting young talent from Japan, Britain, France, South Korea and China,' he says.
'I'm confident the CIGF will continue its success in future years. We need to co-operate with other fashion shows in Beijing and Shanghai, rather than compete. We have to build on the base we've already created here, to support our exciting young designers, to strengthen and develop new partnerships with overseas fashion labels, and to keep pushing the boundaries. In this way, Dalian fashion and its fashion show can really blossom into something special over the next 23 years.'