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Shenzhen Fashion WeekPhotography Alex Catarinella

Magicians and front-row selfie sticks: Shenzhen Fashion Week

Because there’s so much more out there beyond New York, London, Paris and Milan

Having already documented the highs, lows and LOLs of New Zealand Fashion Week (including getting down in a strip club called The White House) New York writer Alex Catarinella is back from more global adventures to tell of the wonders of China’s Shenzhen Fashion Week.

Fashion week never ends! I can feel you rolling your eyes at me. I’m so serious though. Toronto, Moscow, Seoul, Tokyo et al fashion weeks all recently wrapped up, and Sydney is like, tomorrow or something (I know this because I follow important street style photographers on Instagram). While the fashion darlings drop off many a dancing designer heel at the dry cleaners post-PFW before Instagramming about treating their fashion fatigue via tequila in Tulum, or whatever they do, the endless monster that is fashion week actually continues. Because there are other cities on planet earth besides Paris, Milan, New York, London. I can’t believe it either. 

If I sound like a snarky asshole, it’s because I am (sometimes!) a snarky asshole, but more so because I think, if my two to five hour naps are any indication, that I am somehow potentially still jet lagged from my sartorial soul-feeding adventure that was Shenzhen (that’s in China) Fashion Week. I was really, really impressed, which really wasn’t all too surprising considering my homies at IMG were on board as consultants.

On the first morning of shows, when we pulled up to the venue at OCT Harbour, it immediately reminded me of the the NYFW tent days at Bryant Park, if Bryant Park was a sun-kissed, palm-tree-filled hill. It was very Coachella, except the fashion kids lining up for the shows were actually very fashionable. In other words, not a single flower crown in sight. There was, however, a Maserati floating on a platform in the harbour. Work, bitch. 

“It was very Coachella, except the fashion kids lining up for the shows were actually very fashionable.”

Anyway, the first show came from Marisfrolg, one of the biggest designers from Shenzhen and rightfully so – it was very Katie Holmes shopping on a cool autumn afternoon on Fifth Avenue. Oh, Soo Joo Park opened the show. I blame my gay squeal for ruining my disposable camera photo of Soo Joo, who, as you may know, was announced as the first Asian-American spokesmodel for L’Oréal Paris a few days after pumping down the Shenzhen runway. 

For me, the most head-turning shows came from the designers who were unapologetically zany. Like the glammy goth Odbo, whose favourite colours are presumably black and white. It was sporty with a side of severe, there was lots of leather and mesh, and the show featured a spooky industrial soundtrack and strobe lighting suitable for a warehouse rave. I was especially into the black leather jackets, which were splattered with white paint. Also very into the male models who wore these must-have jackets – their slicked back locks, the make-up (I love a nude lip), their Adam’s apples. Also, the ladies rocked cute white bobs.

Things got crazily colourful at fan-favourite, Annakiki, and my eyeballs were so excited. Wild patterns and wild fabrics. I lived for the fluffy slippers and the red gloves (very Lady Gaga in Alaïa at the Grammys). I lived for the trenches complete with Rainbow Brite flowy ropes. I kind of lived for the front-row selfie-sticks. In other words, somebody get Opening Ceremony on the phone ASAP.

Another designer I lived for was ballsy menswear line Y-VISON HOMME, whose killer numbers I feel like K-Pop prince G Dragon could and should rock exclusively, like the velvet suits, and most particularly that fringed black-and-white long skirt. My favourite moment/look came via a painfully beautiful model with disheveled wet locks clad in a furry black and white trench (sans shirt) paired with shorts. It brought me back to that great moment when Rihanna wore that Hyein Seo furry ‘Fear’ cape thingy fresh from the VFiles runway. Mel Ottenberg, listen to me.

I have absolutely no clue what was going on at the wildest show of the week, JTK Zheng, but I enjoyed it all immensely. It was like chic Where The Wild Things Are meets Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter/Willy Wonka. I fucking loved it – it made my brain explode in a great way. And then I snuck backstage and snapped a photo of a pair of male models whose immaculate thighs resulted in me nearly fainting into a clothing rack. I actually had to kick MYSELF out.  

SZFW truly was a week to remember. The closing ceremony was all kinds of nuts and featured an enthusiastic magician and a sassy dance troupe. This also happened: me answering questions on a stage at a press conference to a slew of Chinese media. Shout out to my translator. Most importantly, shout out to the Shenzhen Municipal Government and Shenzhen Garment Industry Association for introducing me and hopefully soon the globe to your talented designers. There must be something chic in the Shenzhen water. Love you, you rule, see you next year. Xièxiè!! (Translation for ‘thank you,’ the only thing I learned how to pronounce.)