None other than 43-year-old Dutch/Chinese fashion designer, Hu Sheguang (胡射光). A graduate of the Dutch Rietfeld Academy of the Fine Arts, Hu’s style could be best described as a combination of Inner Mongolian lavishness with a cheesy Dutch touch.
Whether he is in Beijing or visiting his native Dutch town of Doetinchem, Hu surrounds himself with everything fashion-related. As with most designers, he wants all of his collections to tell a tale that swoops the audience away on the gulfs of differently textured fabrics; and after sacrificing an arm and a leg for the honorable sake of style, thereby learning his lessons the hard way, it’s time to find out: Who’s Hu?
Hu and Holland
Hu was abandoned by his parents at birth and raised in the vast green stretches that embrace Inner Mongolia, but he moved to Europe while still a teenager in pursuit of fame and fortune. He was picked up from Amsterdam airport by his estranged mother and immediately put to work washing drab grey dishes in the kitchen of the family’s restaurant. Legend has it that Hu, fed up after two years of kitchen purgatory, packed his bags and left home to embark on his fashion quest. To Hu, fashion encompasses everything that is beauty, expresses temperament and can lift one’s spirits on any given somber day. Though he had no high school education, a staple requirement for getting into any form of higher education anywhere on the non-virtual planet, Hu’s talent served as a passport to three of Holland’s finest art academies.
Not being content with simply living your average sob story, Hu took his life experiences and background and managed to turn them into eternal reminders and inspirations for his life and collections to come. He is a big fan of diversity, and as such, may be liable to be easily struck by boredom. However, for a designer I don’t think this can ever hurt that much and it led to Hu extending his designs to cater for people of all kinds and ages; from rock stars to the elderly to charity. Generally speaking, for Hu, the more variation, the better. Flip the cloth and structure, twist it, turn it, dye it and just see where it’s headed – but do keep an eye on detail and finishing! Hu’s Inner Mongolian roots form the one consistent influence on both his designs and his life; they simply run through his veins and his collections.
The dominant aspect of his personality often comes to life in his collection features, from the heavily military influenced to tightly tailored and straightforward jackets.
Dominance and arrogance
Hu is quite the character (and that’s saying something coming from myself); awesomely flamboyant I call him. He may be short, but the man has presence. He doesn’t merely enter a room he makes an entrance. Unfortunately, even in our modern day society, being strong-willed can still often be mistaken for being arrogant. Yet Hu has always refused to give in to these stereotypical opinions, instead describing himself as a dominant person (I couldn’t agree more with this viewpoint). The dominant aspect of his personality often comes to life in his collection features, from the heavily military influenced to tightly tailored and straightforward jackets.
Sometimes, and of course especially through the eyes of a designer, what we — the audience — see up on the catwalk from afar might be in stark contrast to what they see up close and personal. The overall designs may look smooth and polished to the bystander; however from up close you can sometimes see the threads hanging out, or are confronted with basic run-of-the-mill designs that should not be on a Fashion Week catwalk. It’s often about cash, not creativity. It’s always a shame to see how many a designer like Hu does not receive the props deserved due to backstage investor meddlings and/or financial ties. Anyway! Hu consequently adding that Spring/Summer if truth be told is not his forte, for me at least, does not indicate arrogance, it indicates being on top of your game. In other words: Dominance.
Contrast and coverage
One final keyword to describe Hu and his fashion would be “contrast.” The contrast between his youth and his current adult life – from a gloomy grey kitchen to a high-end pearly white 30th-floor apartment overlooking Chaoyang Park, surrounded by an entourage that even makes sure he has tea on time – is striking. He continues this thought and line of contrast throughout his collections, for example by pairing leather with silk (say a red leather double-breasted jacket with a long flowing chiffon body-sculpting skirt), hard and soft, feminine and a more masculine edge.
Don’t be afraid to let your personal ideas or background shine through the sheer (or not-so-delicate) fabrics.
Contrast through color. Example: One rather “controversial” show Hu put on during Beijing Fashion Week in fall 2012, saw him use a palette consisting of red and green. The choice of color here stood in stark contrast to the color-goes of other participants. The red-green combo is somehow considered a no-go in Beijing (or China). Red symbolizes happiness and prosperity in the country’s culture, whereas green is, for example, associated with the phrase “wearing a green hat” (带绿帽), which basically means a man is being cheated on. Contrast in creativity brought controversy. And coverage.
Putting together a collection based on these two pallets on the runway, will 100%- pure-silk ensure you stand out from the designer crowd. Contrast in creativity brought controversy. And coverage; point final. Don’t be afraid to let your personal ideas or background shine through the sheer (or not-so-delicate) fabrics. Especially in a nation such as China, Hu advises young designers to make full use of their history and diversity, embrace it and then just roll with it. The story of a collection should be one about the designer and in fashion, you can paint the town red AND green if you want.
Dare to be different and let your outfit do (most of, perhaps not all) the talking.
Photos: Hu Sheguang