The first week of Paris Fashion Week’s nine-day affair has officially flown by. Despite Chinese citizens grappling with visa struggles to travel to Europe, which have seemingly worsened as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, the turnout representing the world’s second largest luxury market has been impressive this season.
From Shang Xia referencing Chinese culture with nods to the upcoming Year of the Rabbit, to disruptive creative talent Di Du from Shanghai using her eponymous label’s collection to express anger toward ongoing lockdowns — China has been well represented on the official 64-show, 42-presentation schedule.
Offstage, there have also been a number of notable Chinese guests, choosing to miss the Shanghai Fashion Week which unusually clashed with the first week of Paris. As Di Du told Jing Daily, “We’ve seen more attendees from China since last season. There are more designers and models, and generally Chinese people in the audience.”
In order to provide a 360-degree view of China’s reaction to Paris’ first week, we spoke to Chinese KOL Nuria (@Nuriamaa), Di Du, and newly-announced member of the BoF 500, Sherry Huang, founder of ENG Concept Store. Here are some of China’s top three highlights so far:
One independent label that has surfaced in many conversations throughout the week is Didu. Staged in the streets of Le Marais, the “I cannot hide my anger” collection reflected what many Chinese citizens are feeling as a result of the pandemic. The dystopian urban aesthetic of camouflage prints, cargos, and reconstructed fabrics felt perfectly fit for the boundary-pushing youth of China and the rest of the world.
The creative director told Jing Daily that Didu fans are currently predominantly “fashion insiders and deep fashion lovers in China,” yet the mass market is increasingly building awareness of the brand. “People are starting to understand and appreciate our ethos and spirit,” said the brand’s founder.
Although London is best known for its selection of emerging talent, Huang noted how Paris is truly nurturing more on schedule. “I am surprised and proud to see that more and more new emerging Chinese brands are also active in this market,” she said.
Along with Loewe and Acne, Dior’s showcase was frequented by Asian creators and talents. From China, we saw KOLs such as Nuria (302k on Weibo) and Kiwi Lee (402k followers on Instagram), as well as artist Oscar Wang who attended with his model girlfriend Tian Yi — all of whom Dior dressed for the occasion.
It was Maria Grazia Chiuri’s sartorial illustration of powerful femininity which Nuria loved most. “Inspired by Catherine de Medici, a powerful woman from the renaissance, Miss Chiuri translated this figure’s symbol for women and power through the corsets, lace, florals, and the neutral tones such as black, white, gold.”
She continued, “I was very pleased to see a grungy style this season since I adore that. Look five, for instance, I gasped when I saw it — the black floral and mixing structure with lace. Absolutely stunning. Look 24, love the complex yet simple dress dominated by drapes. I could go on and on, but yes. I loved it.”
Creative director Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent show dominated Chinese social media, but not for the Eiffel Tower setting or elegant, deep-hued color palettes of black, purples, and greens. Instead, the attendance of Blackpink’s Roseanne Chae-Young Park (known by her stage name Rosé) was trending.
The hashtag #CHAENG LAURENT# has been read by roughly 125,000 Weibo users as of Friday, September 30, despite the show taking place on Tuesday. It proves that the impact of KOLs on consumer attention is far from waning, particularly among Gen Z netizens.
Earlier this year, Saint Laurent was dubbed as Kering’s driving force in the Chinese market. It reported a 34 percent rise in global sales to $1.5 billion (RMB 3.5billion) compared to the same time the previous year.
With a trending fashion week show happening during such a solid growth period, there’s no doubt that the brand will continue to thrive in the mainland. It just proves that although digital shows are a greener, more convenient alternative, the marketing power of physical shows with guest attendees remains incomparable.