Taobao, China's version of eBay, considered the largest online shopping mall in China, brought six designers together during the Tao Fashion Show that took place April 12 during Shanghai Fashion Week.
At the 800SHOW venue at 800 Changde Road, the lobby had a display of mascot Tao Dolls as interpreted by several artists that kept guests entertained while waiting to enter the show area.
Designers chosen for the show presented a varied showcase of mens' and womens' wear from Husenji, Verseau Homme, Cher M, 7GE7GE/Sugargirl, Artka and Italian brand Zimmur that covered the spectrum from practical daywear and evening wear, to the avant garde, including mens outerwear inspired by samurai armor, with a dash of "Game of Thrones" thrown in, and black dresses with origami details.
During the finale, designers came out with a few of their models, tossing Tao Dolls into the front rows, where guests were elated to catch them.
Nadine Kam photos One of Helen Lee's models waits back stage prior to the start of the designer's fashion show April 14 during Shanghai Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2012 at Taipingqiao Park in Xintiandi. This was one of many shows in which the models wore the color of the year orange eye shadow.
Designer Helen Lee said several bad things have happened to her, and friends, over the past couple of years, but out of tragedy came "Window," a bouyant, triumphant collection in which the designer has chosen optimism over defeat.
The designer showed her collection on April 14, Day 4 of Shanghai Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2012.
Her "Window" show was dedicated to a friend whose leg was lost in an accident. They went to church together to pray for her recovery and while there, the designer was inspired by stained glass windows that offered hope and cheer.
During a post-show interview, the designer said, "I know my collection comes from a sad story, but it's meant to be encouraging and heart-warming. You can see from the colors and the textures shown. I want to tell people, whatever you go through, please be optimistic. I personally went through a lot of sad things in the last two years, but my gift to myself and all my friends is to cherish life. I want my designs to have a positive energy."
I am unable to post the video for this show due to slow Wifi connection while in China, but will be able to do so on April 18, so hope you come back for a look.
Designer Helen Lee with her models after the show.
Designer Helen Lee, with one of her models, greeted well-wishers after the show.
Models lined up prior to the show.
Cozy sweaters were meant to convey joy and warmth.
Lee's "Window" collection included this sweater dress, with pukas revealing a stained glass-like print dress peeking from beneath.
Note the models' shoes. Helen is working with a Western brand to introduce her own line of shoes.
I loved her collection of color-blocked wool coats.
The jewelry and ensemble notes back stage.
After the show and interviews I was led over to Helen Lee's store-within-a-store at DBHK in the Xintiandi Style mall for a reception.
In the small world category, Hawaii's Richie Miao's ISM shop is right next to Helen's!
Nadine Kam photos A model walks the runway for Wang Yufei's China Beauty line of scarves, at Shanghai Fashion Week's Fall/Winter 2012.
Wang Yufei showed what could be done with flowing silk scarves during the China Beauty presentation that took place April 12 at Shanghai Fashion Week, at 800Show, 800 Changde Road.
While her scarf designs are firmly rooted in the concept of Chinese beauty, Yufei utilizes production details of Japan and Korea, and traveled to Italy, France, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia in search of inspiration for integrating Eastern and Western cultures.
While her show comprised a global fusion of scarf dressing, her theatrical finale was Chinese through and through, with all the drama of a Zhang Yimou film. I can't upload video from China due to extremely slow and glitchy Wifi connections, but hope you can check back April 18 for the video.
Nadine Kam photos Designer Zix Guan, right, with her model Yulia M.
Zix Guan staged a fashion show that appeared to be part vampire family-meets-"The Matrix" during Shanghai Fashion Week on opening day, April 11.
Meeting her for interviews after the show, I was afraid that she, like so many in Shanghai, didn't speak English, but lucky for me she does, so could answer all my questions about her inspiration and background. She said her theme was "Killers," inspired by Angelina Jolie, and her films, including "Wanted," "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and "Salt."
Typecast as a dangerous woman, me thinks, but Zix would call her powerful. "Maybe she will wear my clothes someday," she said.
Of all people, Angelina Jolie would be one who could pull off Zix's more dramatic designs, inspired by her thinking, "Women in this country need to have power. In China, a lot of girls, women just live for their family, their love, their children; they never live for themselves.
"Women need power, but they still need to be sexy. This collection uses leather to make a woman feel powerful, with lace to make women more sexy."
Zix Guan answers media questions, backed by her vampire clan, Cullen-like models.
Her collection featured a lot of raised, angled and pagoda shoulder details that appeared like armor.
"I think shoulder details can make a woman look more powerful," said the designer, who said she believes she had a sense of her own power as young as 4.
She said her father would punish her to make her apologize for purported bad behavior, but she said, "I didn't want to. I was thinking, 'You hurt me. Maybe you need to say I'm sorry to me."
She noted that because the root of her surname is "Gu," meaning "bamboo," they may both have been somewhat hard-headed and tenacious. Don't worry, they settled their differences long ago, so now her father helps her with her business.
A temporary tattoo design on her back featured bamboo, along with the words "Cold as fire, hot as ice."
The designer began formal design schooling only three years ago after she said she tried to learn all she could through reading and self-study. This was her second show at Shanghai Fashion Week and she was curious to know whether I had seen her past work. When I said no, she said, "Oh, please don't look at it."
Of course that made me go back and look at it, and let's just say she's come a long way. But that's a good thing for any designer, to recognize one's journey.
(I am unable to post video while I'm in China due to slow connections, but please come back April 18 to see a video of Zix Guan's show.)
The designer is adept at dressing both men and women.
Photos by Nadine Kam PPQ creative directors Amy Molyneaux and Percy Parker with two of their models during Shanghai Fashion Week.
PPQ opened Shanghai Fashion Week's Fall/Winter shows at 800Show, 800 Changde Road, on April 11.
Although not yet available in Shanghai, the London-based clothing brand's creative directors Amy Molyneaux and Percy Parker said that—like many retailers who have opened in the fastest-growing city in the world—they hope to be able to open a boutique within a year. "It's new territory for us," Parker said of their showing in Shanghai.
In an interview after the show, I learned that Chinese reporters don't hold back in expressing their opinions. One reporter told them their past collections were better, said their new collection is boring and asked why they changed. Duh.
To which Molyneaux responded that every brand changes to stay current.
The show focused on fall glamour, but what stood out were the array of "hot pants" in various fabrications, that looked quite diaper-like, though striking on the right person.
The wooly hot pant.
When I asked Amy about it, she was clearly enthused by what she described as the "furry hot pant," made with wool mohair. "I think girls love fluffy soft pants," she said, adding that she'd wear them. I'm betting in London they do. Some looks are strictly regional.
Models cheeks were dressed with a single black heart.
I attempted to upload to YouTube, which is blocked in China. Unfortunately, through a VPN I wasn't able to find a fast enough connection, and the video was saved improperly with lots of glitches and hisses. It would be best to turn down the sound and watch just 2 minutes, and I'll probably have to redo the upload when I get home. I had two hours sleep last night waiting for the upload, so I'm really bummed it turned out like this.
New video uploaded April 19, beginning drops off, but at least it's not screeching: