Black, white, Chongqing and Tujia lined with a smidgen of red are the ingredients for this Fresh Fashion Tasty: Mario Duyuchen. Half-Korean half-Chinese, this Beijing-based designer feels inspired by those surrounding him in his daily China life. His 2016 “Unconventional” collection, which premiered at Beijing’s 798 Art District, is entirely based on and tailor-made for each and every individual he worked with during the six-month run-up to the flaunt-fest.
Averse to the staple fashion industry hoo-ha, Duyuchen avoids the usual sowing patterns and aims to create singlets and ensembles for the different sizes and body shapes flouncing the world. “Every woman deserves to break out her inner peacock,” he adds. Ladies, it’s time to fluff up those plumes!
Inspiration on Location
Southwest China’s second tier city of Chongqing is known for its still-booming-yet-challenged (oh hello, contradictio in terminis) economic growth, the Tujia Minority (will get back to them) and Bo Xilai (black rivers of ink have flowed here). Per contra, and perhaps surprisingly so to some, this city also attracts the fashion industry like a true hot-blooded femme fatale, still offering Western luxury brands (many of whom increasingly bid 再见 (“goodbye”, y’all know this one!) to their Chinese stores due to shreekingly shrinking sales — how contradictive) a heavily potential-soaked retail market. In this particular case, it is the stilted housing of the aforementioned Tujia people that actually set the trend-ton for Duyuchen’s latest collection. How so?
A wooden house proudly standing on four stilts with water soothingly running underneath the floors, the Tujia architecture exhibits some square contouring featuring sharp horn on its rooftop, but simultaneously beaming with an overall smooth character. A natural metaphor with Duyuchen’s design technique and underlying thinking is easily drawn: Solid yet lightweight fabrics and pure yet versatile color materials — black and white — without screamingly bold patterns or whistling festoon-tacky embellishments. “Life is already complicated enough; I prefer to keep things simple,” the man states. Simple, classic and elegant; for some reason (or perhaps just in my head) reminiscent of the late Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. This could of course also have to do with her job at Calvin Klein, speaking of artfully understated fashion, or her love for black. “All in all, a simple outfit tends to leave more to the imagination and awakens one’s curiosity about the wearer. The clothes serve the personality,” Duyuchen elaborates.
Simple as Black ‘n White
A crowned combo in my lookbook, but the monochrome outfit can be quite the bone of contention among fashion lovers, with some deeming it “too safe and borderline-boring”. Fair enough, but do take a look at, say, Anne Demeulemeester: Always reflecting some heavy Patti Smith-style, her conspicuous black creations are anything but monotone. Duyuchen and I agree: Neither is monochrome. One can simply never go wrong with a black ‘n white ensemble. Besides, what feline peacock wouldn’t consider a classic Joan&David brogue in alabaster/taupe leather the perfect eyecatching (daytime) footwear?
Despite his staple black ‘n white collections, Duyuchen is incredibly aware “not to let the preferred ‘image’ become so linear that it kills off the creative passion in my garments; that’s exactly why I added a few red touches to this latest clothing rack.” A flair for the autumn weather and wear, the designer loves to take different singles from his collections to create new ensembles. “Especially when it gets colder, you get more creative options. Medium coat, long coat, heavy T-shirt, T-shirt dress with thick sleeves; whatever pleases you. Just play with it!” With more new faces entering the China fashion world every year, Duyuchen hopes to be part of this collective stomping new fashion grounds for decades to come; hopefully among those leading the charge even — bearing berets not berettas.
With made-to-measure a new winner in the China style hit stakes, Duyuchen and his peers are focusing on the creativity in their own hands, the lessons to be learned from others and the exploration of fashion’s multi-draped options, from the conventional to the unconventional. And focused, they are. That is 100 per cent snow-white. Though I do love a flaming China red plume combined with some prodigious peacock pomp.
A hint of pure Chanel wisdom:
“Black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.”