In China’s burgeoning world of fashion, there has been some buzz lately as local designers seek to replace the mantra of “Made in China” with “Designed in China.” Earlier this month in Beijing, models showcased new designs on the runway at the China Graduate Fashion Week show, where the five-day event drew an unprecedented number of participants from over 30 colleges and universities. Also unparalleled is the number of new breakout Chinese design stars who have been winning some acclaim, showcasing their collections in London, Paris and Milan.
Beijing-based fashion designer Guo Pei received widespread attention following last year's Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala when singer Rihanna made a show-stopping entrance dressed in her extravagant fur-trimmed yellow satin cape gown. Although Guo was little-known in the West, the couture designer of the “Magnificent Gold” dress was already a top name among China’s fashionistas, and had been dressing Chinese celebrities for many years. When asked by New York Magazine what she hoped people could understand or see about China through her designs, Guo answered, “It is my responsibility to let the world know China’s tradition and past, and to give the splendor of China a new expression. I hope that people do know China in this way.”
With Guo and designers like Uma Wang, Huishan Zhang and Masha Ma as role models, China’s cadre of new designers should be unleashing many new expressions of Chinese “splendor.” Like designer Vivienne Tam—who was born in Guangzhou, China and raised in Hong Kong—Guo’s designs often feature East Asian-inspired embroideries. But while Tam moved to the U.S. to launch her career, today we are seeing many Chinese designers make a name for themselves working domestically within China. And before long, perhaps, such homegrown fashion brands will become serious rivals to their Western peers.
(c) Matthews Asia