Partnering with Chinese artists seems to be a growing trend for international fashion labels - and no prizes for guessing why. All eyes are focused on the region as a producer as well as a consumer of creativity.
There's no denying that Chinese art is in vogue. The burgeoning Chinese art market, as we see from the season reports from auction houses such as Christie's and Sotheby's, also helps. The latest brand on the bandwagon is Italian shoemaker Sergio Rossi, who collaborated with artist Claude Viallat for two years, and is now working with Chinese artist Peng Wei for its Chelsea boot.
A bit of heavy-handed PR you might think. I'm getting a bit tired of brands plastering an artist's print all over a product to flog it. Sometimes it's successful and you get a wonderful rejuvenation of a style; other times it's just a surface makeover. In this case I was, however, pleasantly surprised by Peng's project, which resulted in eight one-of-a-kind art pieces.
The respected Sichuan artist, who has had several solo exhibitions, is known for her delicate ink paintings. Peng created versions of the Chelsea boot on hand-painted rice paper and debuted the creations at the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré store in Paris. The paper boots became canvases for Peng's particular style of ink painting, which depict traditional subjects such as horsemen and floral motifs.
The gentle colouration that is signature of her work also prevails on these eight artful "shoes" - not made for sale, I might add. But for those interested, where there's a will, I'm sure there's a way.