A rising crop of Chinese fashion designers is infusing the best of the East and West designs that suit the Chinese lifestyle and taste.
Many of these designers have learned their trade in Paris or Milan and now have their own boutiques in Xinlelu, in the former French Concession in Shanghai, where many of the city’s discerning and wealthy fashionistas go for the latest in fashion.
This trend is not only shaping in Shanghai but Beijing and other major cities in China.
Contemporary China is not known for its own distinctive style. These designers are among a growing group of emerging Chinese design talent that are not satisfied with just taking Western designs as their own, but inventing their own unique and chic style. They recognize the best of modern European designs of simplicity and practicality and blend hints of Chinese elements. More important, they understand that some European designs just wouldn’t appeal to Chinese customers. The key to success for designers is recognizing the difference in lifestyles among different countries.
For Lillian Zhang, who studied fashion design in London, she believes “it’s the design that counts” and often the secret is “in the cutting and the fabric, which is woven in China with a distinctive Chinese pattern.”
An example of the distinctive Hai Pai Wen Hua style is one of her dresses that has the high stiff collar commonly found on the traditional Chinese qipao, which dates back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) that is blend with the overall modern European style of the dress.
Hai Pai Wen Hua dresses are gaining popularity in ads. Posters of a slim, tall, young Chinese woman in a full-length black and red European-styled evening gown with Chinese characteristics have been displayed in Fuxing Park in Shanghai.
The dress in the ad is a Jenny Ji design. “The dress emphasizes the model’s “femininity” and “confidence”, which are the essential attributes of a traditional Chinese woman from the Mandarin class,” Ji says, “adding that she wanted to recreate the same image for modern Chinese women now that China has ‘regained its rightful place on the world stage through economic development’.”
Ji has been experimenting with infusing Chinese culture into European-style cuts and textures for some time. “This is, as far as I am concerned, the best way to demonstrate the Hai Pai Wen Hua school of design unique to Shanghai,” she says.
Shanghai Tang was one of the earliest fashion brand to merge East and West elements in its designs.
Undoubtedly, China’s fashion design will get a boost with more designers studying and living abroad who will bring back the best of the West designs and use Chinese elements in “better and smarter ways.”
photo credit: onlylady