Jing Daily’s Top Posts for the Week
This past February, Jing Daily covered Chinese art “super-collector” Wang Wei’s long-discussed private art museum in Shanghai, which Wang and billionaire investor husband Liu Yiqian plan to open next year. The “Dragon Art Museum” (龙美术馆) will showcase Wang and Liu’s extensive collection of blue-chip Chinese contemporary art on the ground floor, Wang’s Mao-era “Red Classics” from 1949-1979 on the second, and traditional works and ancient artifacts on the third floor.
Taking over a section of the former Tomson Centre (汤臣别墅商业中心) building in Shanghai’s Pudong district, near the Shanghai New International Expo Center, Wang’s museum will expand the original 8,000 square meter space to 12,000 square meters. With around 15 months to go until the museum’s planned November 18, 2012 grand opening, last weekend construction teams hit a milestone, starting work on the building’s facade.
While Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan province, has been more recently associated with a booming luxury market and burgeoning interest in wine, the city is still most readily associated with its hot and spicy cuisine, which UNESCO recognized last year by designating Chengdu its first-ever Asian “City of Gastronomy.” Indeed, Chengdu, for all its increasing economic prowess, remains very much a haven for foodies. The slower, more leisurely pace of life enjoyed by Chengdunese, and their more social nature, is reflected in some of their greatest interests: tea houses, Sichuan opera, mahjong, and, of course, food.
Chengdu cuisine can be described as ever-changing, but among its perennial favorites is huǒ guō (火锅), or “hot pot.” Of the city’s hundreds (if not thousands) of hot pot restaurants, which range from lavish banquet-style venues to street-side stalls, Lion Pavilion (Shīzi lóu, 狮子楼) ranks as one of Chengdu’s highest of high-end eateries.
Hong Huang, publisher of the influential lifestyle magazine iLook, tireless promoter of home-grown Chinese fashion design, and proprietress of the “designed in China” boutique Brand New China (BNC), has signed the fresh ESMOD Beijing graduate Xiang Yaodong (项耀东) as the first in-house designer for her new BNC house line. As Hong said this week, “although the original idea of BNC was to stock works by individual designers, after a year of operation, now BNC is going to develop its own brand, ‘Designer for BNC.’” Reflecting her regular championing of ESMOD Beijing — the China outpost of the French fashion school l’Ecole Supérieure des Arts et techniques de la Mode — Hong announced an additional partnership with the institution, the new iLook/BNC scholarship, aimed at supporting financially challenged, yet talented, aspiring fashion students.
As BNC’s first signed designer, Xiang Yaodong will create clothing for his personal brand, “MOH,” as well as additional collections exclusively for the new “MOH for BNC” line.
This week, the Chinese fast fashion retailer ME&CITY released promotional shots for its A/W 2011 collection, which feature British “It Girl” Alexa Chung sporting the brand’s new looks on a rooftop in Paris. Shot by photographer Feng Zhikai (冯志凯), this campaign marks Chung’s first collaboration with ME&CITY, which has perhaps invested the most money of any Chinese brand in roping in well-known Western faces for its advertisements. For its inaugural campaign in 2009, ME&CITY signed Wentworth Miller, star of the American television show “Prison Break,” and British celebrities Orlando Bloom and Agyness Deyn modeled for the brand’s spring 2010 collection, shot by photographer Terry Richardson.
Now, ME&CITY apparently wants to latch on to Alexa Chung’s growing notoriety in China, where her namesake Mulberry Alexa handbag has become a must-have among certain circles of fashion types in Shanghai and Beijing.
Slipping mostly under the radar of international observers, the eastern city of Ningbo, Zhejiang province, has quietly become one of the China’s most promising single luxury markets. A comparatively wealthy city, due to its coastal trade industry, Ningbo has a modest (for China) urban population of around 2.2 million, and a per capita GDP of around US$11,000, but a high concentration of entrepreneurs and “rich second generation” residents has seen consumer spending power increase dramatically over the past decade.
Since opening earlier this year, Ningbo’s He Yi Avenue Shopping Mall has attracted hundreds of high-end brands to set up shop, with the mall racking up around 200 million yuan (US$31 million) in sales over the past six months. According to a report by Hexun, local industry insiders have estimated that total annual consumption of luxury goods in the city will reach 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) this year.