Just a few months ago, Beijing hosted the groundbreaking fashion exhibition Dressing the Screen: The Rise of Fashion Film. Curated by filmmaker Kathryn Ferguson, it marked the world's first comprehensive survey of fashion film, beginning with the pre-internet experiments of Ossie Clark, to the work of emerging avant-garde Chinese filmmakers like Lu Yang. Beijing itself has embraced the possibilities of modern technology within the fashion industry, but as its most recent fashion week revealed, its new generation of designers are merging these innovations with ancient traditions. Producing collections that reference China's dark side, oriental embellishments and a surreal vision for the decline of its Hutong culture.
Simon Gao cast an androgynous spell over both his mens and womenswear collections. Describing them as being “a little bit Chinese, a little bit dark and a bit avant-garde.” Silhouettes were sharp but sat loosely around the body, creating relaxed forms with tailored details. Asymmetrical cuts appeared throughout his womenswear garments, at times quite literally in the form of a long slit that cut through the front of a skirt, but also in his kimono-inspired jackets that were fastened together by a sash waistband. In both collections his colour palette remained muted, with the exception of a few metallics, a deep blue satin and a black and white stripe that ran seamlessly through his menswear designs.
Another one of this seasons standouts was Ivy Hu, whose work was showcased as part of the graduate collections for ESMOD, one of China's leading fashion schools. “The inspiration for my collection was the Hutong [alleyway] culture from Beijing,” she told us. “I want to adopt a surrealist approach to interpret the gradual cultural decline of the Hutongs.” Each of the looks from her collection was influenced by one of the characters that she had encountered down these alleyways. Working with jersey and incorporating carpet fabrics into her garments, she went on to win the Grand Prize.
This article is part of a series on global fashion weeks, supported by Mercedes-Benz. Watch our exclusive video on the Beijing event above, and check out the designers profiled on the Fashion Broadcasting microsite.