In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of June 25-29:
Following her recent Chinese Brides exhibition in Beijing and a relaxing vacation in Morocco, Beijing-based fashion designer Guo Pei (郭培) is radiant, sporting a thick mane of glossy wine-red hair and looking right at home in a stunning Issey Miyake one-piece dress. Warm and humble, but with a firm tone of voice, Guo is now enjoying the fruits of her labor, with the success and international exposure of her Rose Studio label growing and her pieces finding fans in celebrities like Lady Gaga and Zhang Ziyi. With an innate passion for fashion, Guo has blazed her own path in the Chinese fashion world, developing a one-of-a-kind style that is often emulated but never truly replicated. As Hong Huang wrote this spring in her ChinaFile column for WWD, “If there is Haute Couture in China, it would have to be in the Rose Studio by Guo Pei. But it is nothing like any atelier you have seen in the West.”
One of the recurring questions raised by some art market commentators over the past week, fueled by recent comments by auction house China Guardian and ArtTactic’s latest report, is whether the Chinese art market is in “free-fall.” ArtTactic’s report, released last week, indicated that this spring’s auction results at the “Big Four” — Christie’s, Sotheby’s, China Guardian and Poly — showed a 32 percent decrease from autumn 2011 and 43 percent decrease from spring 2011. Among the four, China Guardian saw the largest drop in sales, with 45 percent lower volume this spring compared to last autumn. Itself seeing a 39 percent decrease in overall sales this spring, Beijing Poly recorded the highest Chinese art sales, totaling US$485 million, a 36 percent advantage over Christie’s.
With China’s burgeoning luxury e-commerce market expected to surpass US$3 billion this year, fashion retailers like Net-A-Porter and Neiman Marcus, designers like Alexander Wang and brands like J. Crew aren’t the only companies hoping to tap China’s wealthier consumer. As more Chinese outbound tourists hit the world stage – they’re expected to take 80 million trips this year – high-end travel is rapidly becoming another online battleground for startups.
Joining Trip TM (recently acquired by Ctrip) and the ultra-luxury-baiting Zanadu, a new startup, Quafrica hopes to cash in by going niche.
The demands of China’s fashion-forward demographic are becoming more diverse, making multi-brand boutiques eager to step in and fill an increasingly lucrative gap in the market. Along with established brick-and-mortar multi-brand stores like Hong Kong’s JOYCE, Lane Crawford, and IT, home-grown retailers in Beijing and Shanghai fill an important role in the development of China’s fashion scene, stocking and promoting up-and-coming domestic and international designers. Along with Beijing’s Triple-Major and Dong Liang, Shanghai boutiques like Le Lutin, Alter, Tips and THE VILLA give label obsessives a chance to get their hands on designers that would otherwise be hard-to-find in China.
With the number of hotels under construction in China skyrocketing in the last few years, and virtually all of the world’s top chains digging into Beijing and Shanghai for the long haul, one trend that is only picking up steam is that of luxury hotels stocking a nicely curated supply of Chinese art. While few can do opulence quite like Shanghai’s Peace Hotel or the Fairmont Beijing, in an effort to brand themselves as a place for the hip and worldly, boutique hotels like Grace Beijing, The Opposite House, and JIA Shanghai have found that Chinese art can be the missing ingredient.