Dune’s ‘desert core’ look hits China

    ‘Dune: Part II’ is expected to catapult ‘desert core’ to new heights in China.
    Image: Gillian Chung’s Weibo
      Published   in Fashion

    Last month, Hong Kong actress and singer Gillian Chung released a series of pictures on Weibo of herself crossing Arizona’s famous Monument Valley. Against the backdrop of the American desert landscape, characterized by a cluster of sandstone buttes, Chung’s choice of attire, an earth-toned hooded knit dress, evoked the essence of “desert core.” The Weibo post garnered widespread attention – it was shared nearly half a million times.

    Desert core has been rising as a fashion trend since the releases of American science fiction film Dune: Part I in 2021 and Dune: Part II earlier this month, and alongside the rise of the metaverse, there has been a notable shift in consumer focus towards themes of technology, the future, and post-apocalyptic lifestyles. Clothing concepts such as desert stillsuits, a full body suit that appears in the movie Dune worn in the open desert to preserve the body’s moisture, or the attire of desert nomad tribes, exuding a desolate yet futuristic aesthetic, have grown in popularity across the globe.

    In May 2022, Nicolas Ghesquière unveiled his Louis Vuitton Cruise 2023 Collection at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, a masterpiece designed by Louis I. Kahn in 1965, located in San Diego, California. Models strode amid two rows of parallel buildings crafted from travertine marble, enveloped by the warm glow of a golden sunset. The earthy tones of the garments, crafted from linen, jacquard, silk, and leather, along with the nomadic accents, echoed the visual language of Dune with striking fidelity.

    Louis Vuitton's 2023 Cruise collection. Photo: Louis Vuitton Weibo
    Louis Vuitton's 2023 Cruise collection. Photo: Louis Vuitton Weibo

    Likewise, Saint Laurent introduced an elevated wardrobe featuring silky hooded dresses in its Spring collection, released at the end of September 2022.

    Gradually, this aesthetic has transcended the confines of the screen, permeating into the real world as a newfound concept eagerly embraced by the fashion, cosmetics, and home furnishing industries.

    In recent months, Chinese idol Esther Yu (23.5 million followers on Weibo) and K-pop idol Blackpink singer, and fashion icon Jennie have both been spotted sporting desert core ensembles in public, further propelling the fashion trend in China. Currently, there are over 60,000 user-generated instances (UGC) on Xiaohongshu showcasing individuals flaunting their desert core (废土风) outfits.

    Consequently, Yu and Jennie’s outfits have propelled niche designer brands such as Darker Wave and Demobaza, renowned for their desert core aesthetic, into the spotlight. Many followers eagerly inquire about purchasing links beneath their posts.

    Esther Yu in Darker Wave and Jennie in Demobaza. Photo: Xiaohongshu screenshot
    Esther Yu in Darker Wave and Jennie in Demobaza. Photo: Xiaohongshu screenshot

    Floating and body-contouring hooded dresses, crafted from silky or cotton fabrics and ranging in tones from brown to beige and military green, have emerged as favored styles among Chinese youth embracing the desert-core trend. These outfits are being shown off in deserts and on mountains, with young girls posting Dune-inspired pictures online.

    While many local consumers gravitate towards niche designers, such as Darker Wave, Demobaza, Cyberbunny, SMFK, and Wooha, pieces from Saint Laurent’s Spring 2022 collection remain popular with this demographic, highlighting lucrative opportunities in the luxury market.

    Following the footsteps of the “Barbiecore” trend, desert core has emerged as another trend stemming from cinema screens, influencing people’s everyday wardrobe choices. This underscores the astute strategy of brands such as Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent, swiftly capitalizing on the popularity of blockbusters and translating them into their ready-to-wear collections.

    As people devote more time to enriching their cultural knowledge through activities like attending theaters, movie theaters, and bookstores, brands must remain vigilant and adaptable to evolving trends.

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