Silk (or “si” 丝 in Chinese), that luscious and lustrous luxury fabric, was first developed in ancient China around 3630BC. Fast forward 5000 years and the question becomes: How does the 2016 woman do silk in style?
As the molecular structure of silk makes the fabric adjust itself to your body temperature, one might pun that Sefhyir’s designs are Sichuan-fire-tequila-shot-hot.
And who better to seek the answer from than Lio He (贺柳), founder and creative director of Sefhyir, a Beijing-bred brand producing silk scarfs in all shapes, digital patterns and sizes. Having lived for four years in Paris, the capital of smooth tailoring, Lio is one fiery creature who has all the ins and outs on styling yourself in silk. The designer studied luxury brand management at one of the top Parisian business schools and worked in client management for Dior cosmetics before she came up with the idea to design silk scarves that compliment a woman’s femininity and can take any outfit from a simple daytime throw-on item to a night-on- the- town fireworks display. The flames of ambition that burn within this Mademoiselle burst through in her designs. As the molecular structure of silk makes the fabric adjust itself to your body temperature, one might say that Sefhyir’s designs are Sichuan-fire-tequila-shot-hot. And that’s only the beginning.
After, ironically, falling out of love with her man in the City of Love, Lio found herself on a train to school in winter 2011, contemplating the influence Paris had had on her views on style, life and love.
This entrepreneurial designer has picked up the innate, easy, deluxe breton sense of style which seems to come so naturally to les Parisiennes and for which the city is so well-known. However, Lio’s roots are strongly embedded in Beijing’s western Chegongzhuang area. She first attended university in Shanghai, gaining a master’s degree in Finance, the aim of which was to ensure that she would secure a solid job to put food on the table. However, unfulfilled by her 9-5 every day job in a bank, Lio decided one day to follow her man du moment to France. She still describes that experience as an overwhelming, exotic and eye-opening one at first sight. After falling out of love with her man in the City of Love, oh the irony, Lio found herself on a train to school in winter 2011, contemplating the influence Paris had had on her views on style, life and love, when suddenly an idea occurred to her: Why not go into fashion herself? Sefhyir was born.
Initially, Lio’s parents were “unsurprisingly” skeptical about their daughter’s plans. Despite this, Lio’s brand, Zeria, which focuses on scarves, was officially launched in January 2012. But why focus on scarves? According to Lio, scarves are the embodiment of Paris’ relaxed style. They can be worn in a wide variety of shapes and ways, with their raison d’être to ensure that a person looks well-dressed in an unfussy, uncomplicated way. When you combine that concept of simplicity with the luxurious femininity and soft, rich touch of silk, you have a winning combination on your hands, or on your neck, or worn as a halter-top). Silk is a very difficult fabric to work with, and no-one does it quite like the Chinese. Of course in China, silk is much more widely available than it is in the West, where silk remains a precious and expensive fabric. Despite this, taking into account the fact that this fabric adjusts itself to your temperature as well as your shape, a silk scarf makes a great addition to any outfit and can lend it a splash of color. For summer, Lio recommends chiffon/silk scarves covered in vibrant colors and prints. She designs all the digital prints herself, but she perfects them in conjunction with a team of Hangzhou illustrators as she still prefers to work with Chinese because “my European artist friends will try to incorporate their own vision into the creations.” Ah oui oui, les artistes hein…
The Lio style is not quirky like the London scene, which is accented by the creations of St. Martin’s grad Momo Wang; instead it has more of a Saint Laurent edge to it.
The saints of inspiration and creation
The savvy business-minded Lio draws her inspiration from everything and everyone in her daily life, though she admits to feeling much more inspired when she is in Paris than she does when in her native Beijing. Lio definitely has a French take on fashion, just like Masha Ma. The Lio style is not quirky like the London scene, which is accented by the creations of St. Martin’s grad Momo Wang; instead it has more of a Saint Laurent edge to it, but does not have a New York sense of style, as, according to Lio, “That fashion is for the masses.” Her imagination can be triggered by a friend, designer or movie star: From Hedi Slimane (yes, the brilliant new Big Kahuna at Yves Saint Laurent) to Hubert de Givenchy’s lifelong muse, Audrey Hepburn (I love that iconic, classic, never-out-of-style Audrey vibe). For her collections, Lio looked both within herself as well as to the outside world, creating themes of sensitivity, fire and other ambiances throughout her designs. Take, for example, her 2013 Fire line, for which she looked within the human body. Traditional Chinese Medicine sees our blood vessels as energy channels that deliver fire to our organs. This constant flow of Yin and Yang is represented in the scarves by deep blues and reds.
Trick and treat!
Whereas her Chinese clientele proved to be particularly taken with pop-arty prints, the Western customers tend to favor the blue and turquoise shades. Apparently we, the modish lovers, share a natural instinct to avoid items that make us looked washed out and do not match our skin tones. Sefhyir’s original clientele consisted of Chinese women who opt for quality and no longer buy things just to flaunt the brand and its price tag. Lio hopes that China’s fashion scene will make a general shift towards this way of thinking. As many Chinese women are still afraid to embrace their femininity, she aims to embody, achieve and expand the “If you got it, flaunt it!” theme that runs through her body of Sefhyir work by adhering to an unfussy yet feminine approach to design, which appeals to a mass audience rather than just the Vogue crowd. The future will hopefully see her launch a clothing line, underwear, and who knows what else! Sefhyir in December of 2015 launched a line of up-cycled silk necklaces — statement pieces, each and every one of them.
En route to the next destination, you can always use multiple scarves to create an exclusive dress that captures all the right curves: A trick on the eye of the beholder. And a treat.