Beijing Can’t Yet Rival Paris, But City Has Clear Potential
When thinking of the world’s fashion epicenters, Beijing usually does not come first to mind. Although not quite to the extent it would have in the fad-laden cities of Paris and New York, the promising effort on Mercedes-Benz’s behalf allowed China Fashion Week 2012 to come alive in Beijing. Held in the industrious 751 D-Park, bordering the famed 798 arts district, as well as the city’s iconic Beijing Hotel, the veteran fashion week producers, Mercedes-Benz, transformed these somewhat bleak spaces into venues that were fit not only for the car manufacturer’s young and voguish spirit, but also for the vibrancy of couture.
Despite putting forth their best efforts, many of the local and domestic Chinese designers’ shows did not quite validate one’s connotations of a glamorous runway extravaganza. However, I must admit, besides the Versace grand finale spectacle, there was one designer that caught my eye for his fashion forward use of fur. Wu Xuekai, for the lustrous house of MAGIC FUR, showed his creativity through the dyeing, altering and fusing of various animal furs. Furthermore, his use of color blocking, especially through radiantly vivid accessories, like tights and shoes, perfectly juxtaposed the similarly colorful but more dulled hues found in his dresses and coats.
Beyond the MAGIC FUR showcase, most of the other catwalk shows proved their designers to be still enrolled in sewing school in comparison to their US and European post-graduate counterparts. To remain unnamed, these designers’ collections often seemed childish in their stitching techniques and cost-effective with their chosen fabrics. Comically, one designer even incorporated a heart-shaped cutout into the back of one of her wedding dresses. These collections wandered far from conveying any understanding of haute couture, and rather revealed their desire to appease a generalized and newly wealthy population captivated by lacy frills and rhinestones galore.
This past Sunday evening, ELLE and Mercedes-Benz teamed up to say goodbye to fashion week with a bang. Considering beverage sponsor, G. H. Mumm, was rumored to have contributed over 500,000 yuan (US$79,391) worth of champagne, one can only imagine the enormity of this event. Held in one of D-Park’s massive, empty water tanks, the space was morphed into an showcase that not only included a stage large enough to fit two Mercedes-Benz C-class sedans and several performers, but also an illuminated catwalk that wrapped around the entirety of the stage, two free-flowing champagne bars, and seating for nearly 300 invited guests. Clearly ELLE and Mercedes recognize the need for fashion weeks to incorporate a show from a large and established couture house, yet — unfortunately for Beijing’s smaller and lesser-known scene — this show came in the form of a “surprise” during the closing event.
Perhaps as both Beijing and China continue to develop their sophistication and mature their tastes, these fashion houses will see the importance of debuting collections in the world’s Eastern half.
Zandie Brockett is a Beijing-based curator, consultant and photographer from Los Angeles. A transplant from New York’s gallery world, Brockett is now working on several projects in addition to her photography, such as the development and production of HONG轰, a self-sustaining platform that provides Beijing-based emerging artists a way to support the production, exhibition and sale of their artwork.