“The Paris of the East” once again becoming a fashion epicenter
Shanghainese designers are staying busy despite the global economic downturn. Shanghai Daily profiles local designer Lu Kun, whose newest collection hearkens back to Shanghai’s 1930s Golden Age, rather than the newest trends in Paris or Milan:
You could not find any trace of the latest fashion trends in [Lu’s spring 2009] collection…There were no jumpsuits, no harem pants, no big shoulders, no 1980s styles at all. Instead, there were dresses: feminine, sexy cocktail dresses the longest running to knee-high.
They were made of satin, silk, lace and light wool, in a palette of mysterious black and passionate reds and soft tones such as light blues and pinks. Most of them were skin-tight, with lace details featured on the back or around the hems. Animal prints like the leopard were prevalent.
Home-grown luxury brands and independent collections are beginning to spring up in Shanghai and Beijing, joining Hong Kong companies like Shanghai Tang. Although mainland Chinese designers often incorporate traditional flourishes in their designs, for fashion pioneers like Lu Kun, the future of Chinese luxury brands calls back to the 1930s, when Shanghai exemplified that era’s form of proto-globalization. In China’s rapidly-changing fashion landscape, designers like Lu know that originality is key, and that developing and — perhaps more importantly, marketing — a new Chinese style is a complicated process. Says Lu,
“In order to create a style, you need to go back to the roots and dig deep to explore what it means…Simply adding an embroidered dragon to a garment is not Chinese style.”
A custom-designed Lu Kun dress runs anywhere from 6,000 yuan (US$878) to 7,000 yuan, and takes about 3 weeks for the designer to create in his Shanghai studio.