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Fashion in Hong Kong and China

Shanghai Fashion Week highlights: sustainable fashion, haute couture from Dior, and the hottest labels

China’s fast growing importance in the fashion industry can be seen at Shanghai Fashion Week, which attracts some of the biggest names in the business. Here are the highlights from inside and outside the shows

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 April, 2018, 9:47am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 April, 2018, 6:33pm

The rise of Shanghai Fashion Week shows how China’s place in the industry has shifted over the past five to seven years. Today, it attracts some global names, such as Maria Grazia Chiuri of Dior, who came for a couture show.

Damir Doma showed his latest collection and opened a flagship, while Pascal Morand, executive president of the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode toured the shows and talked about how “the digital revolution has made the biggest impact on all fashion weeks around the world”.

Jimmy Choo showed his couture fashion line (partnered with his nephew) that fused earthy natural inspirations with exquisite craftsmanship, and Hong Kong actress Carina Lau debuted a new silhouette at her Anirac label show.

Highlights from the catwalk

“Shanghai can be really open and full of possibility … and although some things in China can be bad taste in a way, you can really try to do something that you never imagined before,” says co-founder Yushan Li of Milan- and Shanghai-based menswear label Pronounce. The brand debuted at Shanghai Fashion Week two years ago, and this season again offered a sophisticated colourful and compelling men’s wardrobe.

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Chinese super stylist Lucia Liu and popstar Bibi Zhou have co-designed a capsule line for New York sports-fashion brand Pony. “The inspiration comes independent women and girl power,” says Liu. “We looked at shoots from the 1970s and ’80s and combined this with the idea of neutral genders, so you see a lot of men and women on the catwalk in the same outfit.”

The colour-blocked shirt dresses, parkas and tracksuits were aimed at the lucrative Chinese youth market and were sold online as the show streamed live to audiences all over China.

Less catwalk and more nightclub performance, Angel Chen had street dancers in oversized baggy streetwear looks and an orgy of colours, feathers and celestial motifs.

The part athleisure, slouchy, puffa jacket look is still strong in both menswear and womenswear, as evidenced in fun and often fabulous iterations at Chen, 8ON8, Private Policy and Angus Chiang.

Judging by street style at Shanghai Fashion Week, the oversized, slouchy, street style aesthetic still has a hold on China’s youth, but is being repeated so often by designers, we feel it’s only a matter of time before the trend gets tired.

Thankfully, there are designers such as Daniel Xuzhi Chen of Xu Zhi and Wanbing Huang (of her eponymous label) who are giving us some grown-up sophistication in shape, fabrics and silhouette. Xu Zhi’s art gallery presentation showed off sublime woven fabrics and painted latex dresses inspired by Pre-Raphaelite muse Jane Morris.

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Dark and romantic, Huang’s see-now, buy-now collection featuring shimmering, inky purple tones and precise, sculptural frills proved to be a stand-out.

Ffixxed Studios’ draping and utility/outerwear checks showed their knack for youthful, unisex “slow fashion” styles. Also making an impression was ShuShu/Tong, whose subversive, prim femininity offered a twist on vintage uniforms.

Dior brings haute couture

It wasn’t part of the official schedule but the timing was perfect. Maria Grazia Chiuri delighted Chinese fans with a Christian Dior Haute Couture show and Masquerade Ball in Minsheng Wharf in Shanghai’s Pudong district. Shanghai’s VIPs and influencers, including Yuyu Zhang, Natasha Lau, Leaf Greener and Anny Fan all arrived decked out in Dior, as 78 looks paraded down the catwalk.

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Chiuri designed 12 new looks especially for the Shanghai show: show-stopping red suits and gowns and pretty pink dresses. This collection is best viewed close up to properly take in the super fine details, micro drapes and pleating.

Lush feathers complemented the strict classic Dior lines and corset piping – all lending some European powerhouse glamour to a week usually focused on rising Chinese talents.

Sustainability is this season’s buzzword

The fashion industry is still the world’s second biggest polluter. And in China, a world hub for both manufacturing and consumption, there’s no escape from the industry’s eco damage. Only time will tell if China’s fashion crowd are just paying lip service or creating change on a mass scale.

“Everything comes from nature … we must protect the earth,” says Jimmy Choo when explaining his couture collection’s ‘earthy’ theme.

Events like Greenevery[day] included workshops to promote sustainable fashion.

With regards to sustainability, China has gone through so much change since I started my brand, and there’s more change to come
Zhang Na, ReClothing Bank

Woolmark ran a forum on the topic, inviting speakers including designer Zhang Na (of ReClothing Bank), Modern Media’s Shaway Yeh (who consults on sustainability) and Hong Kong stylist Denise Ho. Kering’s Asia VP of communications Charlotte Judet joined another panel of five to speak on sustainable fashion.

“Creating sustainable and ethical fashion is a goal we must work on together,” says Judet. “China has the capacity to implement large-scale innovation in sustainability at a pace not seen in another country. And as a matter of fact, several Chinese brands and manufacturers are leading the way.”

On the official Shanghai fashion week catwalks, it was Chinese sustainable upcycling brand ReClothing Bank’s show that proved to be one of the most poignant moments with real people as models as their life stories were projected onto a screen behind.

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“These latest few years have seen the rise of more effective green NGOs; and also for the consumer and media, there’s definitely more interest in how the fashion we buy effects our immediate environment,” says Zhang. “With regards to sustainability, China has gone through so much change since I started my brand, and there’s more change to come.”