Chinese supermodel Lu Yan's label launches at Lane Crawford
China's Lu Yan has made the leap from international catwalk queen to emerging designer
Models dabbling in fashion design is nothing new in the West. Over the years high-profile names such as Elle Macpherson, Liya Kibede and Gisele Bundchen have all launched successful clothing or accessories lines. The trend has finally reached Asia as Lane Crawford carries ready-to-wear brand Comme Moi, founded by Chinese supermodel Lu Yan last year.
Since starting her career in 1999, Lu has appeared regularly on the covers of international magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire and i-D, while stalking the runways for such luxury brands as Lanvin and Alexander McQueen. As one of the first Chinese faces to appear on the world's catwalks, she is considered a pioneer. She is also the first Chinese model to launch her own fashion line.
"Having my own collections was always the dream. I was just waiting for the appropriate time. If you want to remain a leader in this industry, you should continue learning, developing and challenging yourself. Of course, being a model helped and pushed me to start my own collection," says Lu, the coal miner's daughter who was once known as the family's "ugly duckling".
Like the name suggests, Comme Moi (French for "like me") is based on Lu's personal style. After modelling for countless other brands, she saw a need for a clothing line that was both comfortable and elegant while easily integrating into any woman's wardrobe.
"I hope that Comme Moi reflects the true you. What I wear is just a reflection of myself, the real me. I like things that are not that complex. I encourage everyone to experiment with fashion, but I hope everyone can stay true to their own style and find something that suits them within the line," she says.
Initially, Lu kept her involvement with the brand a secret, preferring to let her designs to do the talking. While sales were slow to begin with, she started to pick up major retailers thanks to her versatile silhouettes, including her bestselling fishtail skirt. Every season she experiments with new details, colours and fabric, many of which are developed for Comme Moi.
For autumn/winter 2015, which lands in stores this month, Lu was inspired by a scene from the Patti Smith documentary, Dream of Life. Highlights include military jackets, versatile jumpsuits and coats covered in abstract paintings.
A classic wind coat is updated in chamois leather, and a dress comes with layers of tassels for movement. Wide-legged trousers are split at the sides for an understated yet sensual look. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there is plenty of mannish tailoring in the form of pinstripe suits, overalls and trousers. Each look is accessorised with boots and derby shoes designed in collaboration with Christian Louboutin.
As the brand's profile grows, Lu hopes that her designs provide women with more than just beautiful clothes to wear. "Comme Moi encourages every woman to release herself and to show the real her. Don't try to be a superwoman. Dressing up should be relaxing and easy. Through clothes you can show your true self," she says.