The Fashion Dragon: Beijing

Girls! Panic?!

THE magazine cover of December 2011 for me would have to be the Harper’s Bazaar UK featuring Eva, Naomi, Cindy, Helena and Yasmin; otherwise known as The Supers. In a reunion we only witness once every decade, the models teamed up with one of their husbands (Simon Le Bon) to shoot the latest video for the latter’s band Duran Duran (surely rings a bell with most): Girl Panic!. The video certainly does not disappoint  in the fashion stakes and let’s say the styling is not so much bandage as it is bondage inspired. Black leather, stilettos, black minis, latex, studs… it glorifies the epiphany of all that is Rock ‘n Roll. (The styling came courtesy of Dolce and Gabbana and a big “thank you” goes out to Swarovski for adding some sparkle.) Bandage or Bondage, that seemed to have become the fashion question of 2011. S&M went from haute couture taboo to street wear trend, so to speak.


But enough with last season’s sexual innuendo because a new year requires looking forward and not back. What to expect this coming spring and summer then? Bold shoulders and 1950s inspired skirts (wavering from floral to more abstract prints; yes my ladies, we have a serious revival on our hands). On a very positive note here, even though the lines are not as drastic as they were back in the day, the 50s women’s fashion has been acclaimed as being the most feminine and feminizing style ever. So flaunt those shapes people and don’t overlook the outrageous prints (think neon and absurd graphic stuff, as shown in the upcoming Marni collection for H&M), the peplum, etc. Pep-what??? Yes, this used to be a Greek tunic around 500 BC and since the 1940s stands for a skirt fitted on the hips. In 2012 we wear it at its best paired with short tailored jackets and thus allow it to really flatter/create the all-round beloved hour glass shape. Last but not least, we have the options of putting on flapper dresses and some of Queen VB’s collection. One problem might occur though… Could we perhaps have too many options in the Bloomingdales’ department? Is 2012 truly the time to fashionably panic?


Dramatic shapes and colors are most definitely keywords to describe past October’s Mercedes Benz China Fashion Week in Beijing as well. Designer Qi Gang splurged on animalistic (for lack of a better word) and elusive evening gowns, exquisitely designed and a feast for the eye. The collection featured theatrical shapes and a large color palette. Zhuang Ganran too went for color and presented us with a retro look, using striped slim Hitchcock silhouettes in his collection, whereas Chu Yan also gave us a taste of several outfits whose cuts were unmistakably reminiscent of the typical 1950s shapes. In sum, it seems to me designers everywhere are on the same page as far as our new Spring/Summer season wardrobes are concerned. Yet for now and several months to come still, I’d say  it’s still too frostbity outside and we should keep honoring the bondage trends by sticking to the (fake) tight leather pants and matching them with  favorite faux fur upper garments, such as cardigans. All of these paired with studded stiletto or biker boots as demonstrated by The Supers.


Source: Beijing Fashion Week, Zhuang Ganran Show, 28 October 2012



Source: Beijing Fashion Week, Qi Gang Show,26 October 2011

 The above-mentioned trend of more defined contours and explicit colors/prints has entered the street scene some time ago already (and just to be clear, I’m not talking about color-blocking, which has made an appearance and left the building). Especially roaming the streets of Sanlitun or the more musical scene around the Second Ring Road –Wudaoying/Baochao hutongs, Beiluoguxiang, Drum’n Bell–  you can start spotting the fresh diversity of fabrics and prints already, albeit still hidden underneath layer upon layer of warmer clothing (whereas one year ago, there was a full-on studded kinky latex atmosphere). This immediate picking up of the latest trends is partially related to the spending pattern of the urban Chinese woman, which has been on the rise over the past years, parallel to their earning power. Clothing and accessories are an crucial part of ensuring and enhancing their living quality. Hence no bars are hold when it comes to getting the latest and trendiest. In the end, it all comes full circle: when it comes to fashion, the women in the streets set the trends. Not the models on the catwalk.

So, is 2012 really the year to panic? No. Plenty of costume (and era) choices on offer once again, therefore you have a license to go clothes-crazy. Do make sure, as you undoubtedly always do, that whatever trend you do decide to go with, matches your personality. By that I mean putting on, let alone pulling of, neon deep sea prints requires a serious dose of self-confidence. One that probably extends beyond healthy methinks. It’s almost an entirely new form of exhibitionism.



PS: That’s all for this time, but just for the record, please don’t think I am deliberately leaving our beloved male colleagues out of this blog. Next time, with a little help from my friends, I’ll give try to give some advice on “Getting Tailored”. In other words:  why visit a tailor’s, where to go and what to tell them. Some tailored tricks from the men to get what you want in Beijing (clothing-wise that is).