Front row tweets for this fab four
The front row of a fashion show is the spot everyone else in the crowd is focused on as they wait for the action to start. Recently, the front rowers (also known as 'frowers') raising the most eyebrows have been Chinese starlets.
The recent Christian Dior runway show at the Rodin Museum in Paris featured four Chinese actresses - all immaculately turned out. And much publicity was generated for both the brand and said starlets. Dior follows in the footsteps of Chanel, which had previously invited the country's top Weibo-style celebrities to its own front row, including actress Yao Chen.
Photographers went gaga over the fabulous four at Dior and a snap of the women was tweeted with the caption 'the future of fashion'.And while each has a large following on the mainland, the Western media still has little or no idea who they are. On mainland websites such as Weibo, however, the quartet were roundly mocked by internet users, who attacked them for appearing unnatural and overdressed.
The media has had plenty to say about the phenomenon, with Womens Wear Daily, Fashionary and the like reporting on the new Chinese celebrity frowers.
But all this should be of little surprise. After all, Chinese models such as Liu Wen and Sun Fei Fei have been making regular appearances on runways the world over for the past five years.
Just as China is proving to be the most important market for the luxury sector, Chinese stars themselves are learning the ropes of international self promotion through fashion. Actress/singer Fan Bingbing, for example, is a fixture at Paris Fashion Week as well as shows in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.
The Chinese market has been crucial in keeping the luxury sector buoyant during the global financial downturn. But China isn't simply consuming Western luxury fashion; it's starting to produce its own.
Of late, we have seen more concerted attempts to introduce Chinese creative capital to the West. A case in point was the 'China in Paris' showroom, set up in the French capital during fashion week, aimed at building bridges between the two countries and showcasing the design talent that China has to offer.
Perhaps the wave of glamorous Chinese frowers is a continuation of this long overdue trend.