“VISIONAIRE Styling”, aka Shanghai-based Rui Cheng’s firstborn, encompasses a host of stylistic projects ranging from the personal to the corporate wardrobes and even retail staff training. Garnished with a zest of rawness, honesty and edge, an infatuated Temper sits down with Cheng and talks pioneering poses and pretentious posers set within the bubble of commercial and editorial styling. And a mutual love for employee discounts.
Rui Cheng On Rui Cheng
Cheng: Not bird, but “trashique” is the word — [just follow her IG @visionairestyling for more visual info on that! #love]. I like to look chic and a bit trashy all at the same time… I guess you could say I’m just not that into perfection and rather carry myself with a purposely disheveled look! On that note, I have to admit that my mom always used to ask me why I dressed like a homeless person, though, ha. I am a yogi, a minimalist with an attitude who’s married to Monochrome 1st, a giant Serbian 2nd and soon to be mommy this spring!
As far as my vision on China fashion and style in 2018 goes… Hopefully the height of that whole Maximalism trend is on its way out! I’ve never been one for following trends or trying too hard. I can understand the excitement around the idea of “more is more” since fashion/style is still relatively new in China — in comparison to the more developed cities such as Paris, New York, etc. There’s a definite shift in the way fashion is being absorbed here on the Mainland. Younger generations tend to follow trends and move towards being “less Chinese”. I believe China eventually will move in a similar direction to that of the rest of the world — albeit with a lil’ lag. When all is said and done, I think people will go for less consumption and take a more minimalistic approach to fashion. That’s how the universe works: Ebb and flow.
In order for China’s fashion industry to see growth, we also need to rely on those individuals who are educated abroad to go out on their own (like Feng Chen Wang and FFixxed Studios) rather than join large corporations and get lost in the shuffle.
Pioneering In Style
Cheng: You ask me about the rise of the stylist scene in China: I believe I was one of the pioneers in the industry being I started VISIONAIRE almost seven years ago in Shanghai when stylists weren’t around every block like Starbucks! The good thing is, the pool’s big enough for everyone; the unfortunate thing is, there are many who like to throw around the “stylist” phrase because they think it sounds glamorous. The fashion industry is anything but glamorous. It takes dedication, commitment, training and talent. Many are unqualified. However, I believe that over time, people will soon have a clear show of who really means to leave their mark on the industry.
China is what’s known as a “collectivist culture” and therefore people are not taught to think outside the box. Having said that, I do believe those who are beginning to view fashion as art or are using clothing for self-expression are likely influenced by other cultures.
Cheng: Inspiration comes from everywhere. People inspire me, however, I’m very particular about who I work with. I’m inspired to exchange ideas with other talented artists and prefer to work with like -minded individuals who challenge me and share similar visions and goals. That’s the basis for any successful collab, if you ask me.
When asking me about any key differences between my collabs in Shanghai and New York, I gotta say that the main difference I notice in China are that things tend to come together more last minute. For example, dates and locations get moved around or the models are getting changed/hired on the day before the shoot. This can cause planning issues for the stylists, but usually things still come together in the end — even if it is in stressful fashion!
Drawing on the China scene, I think the rise of global interest in China comes from many places, but certainly the ever-growing fashion industry here is playing a role and peaking the interests of those on the “inside”. Fashion Week in particular has witnessed huge growth in the past three to five years with not just local, but also global attention spiking. That Week has the power to shed light on fashion in China as well as Chinese culture itself.
Style is not about spending lots of money or wearing expensive brands or being on top of the trends; it’s an art form.
Kids These Days
Cheng: Despite it still being very much “consumption masses” over here, from my perspective, the majority of post-80s and -90s Chinese are more interested in buying clothes for the sake of being on trend. The continuous rise of fast fashion makes this desire more accessible. There seems to be a growing number of the younger generation who are honing in on their own personal style, but China is what’s known as a “collectivist culture” and therefore people are not taught to think outside the box. Having said that, I do believe those who are beginning to view fashion as art or are using clothing for self-expression are likely influenced by other cultures.
I think we have no choice but to have faith in the younger generations. If we don’t believe in the abilities of the generations behind our own, then how can we foresee a world that moves forward, makes progress and continues to create rather than stagnate? Much of China’s young talents go abroad to hone their craft. Therefore, in order for China’s fashion industry to see growth, we also need to rely on those individuals who are educated abroad to go out on their own (like Fengchen Wang and FFixxed Studios) rather than join large corporations and get lost in the shuffle. A greater emergence of individual designers starting their own brands will certainly take some time, but I think we’ll get there!
The China Classics?
Cheng: Style to me is all about personal branding, a form of self expression, a combo of the way you dress, the way you talk, the way you move, your lifestyle, your values, etc. It’s not about spending lots of money or wearing expensive brands or being on top of the trends; it’s an art form. Ultimately you want to project your inner-self outwardly. In fact, many of my clients hire me because there is often a disconnect between the two.
There may be a global recognition of the “classic Chinese style” in a historical context — such as qipaos and mandarin collars, silk, lots of red and gold… But a “classic” style may not exist anymore.
I personally find the creative changes taking place in the China Fashion landscape to be very exciting! Especially seeing how it has evolved firsthand. There’s been such a drastic shift since when I first came to China more than 20 years ago! As for the “older generation” [Rui, rest assured, we at Temper would quake in our vintage boots calling your late 1970s-born generation “old” and we hereby do refer to the generation of your parents; insert evil grin], there will always be the ones who are onboard and keeping up with the times, whilst others will do what they’ve always done and not feel a need to adapt to the newness.
In that moment of truth… The same applies to any country: As the fashion/style industry changes, you are always going to have people who “don’t understand kids these days”. Besides, who doesn’t love a little temperamental “trashy” vibes every now and then. It’s très, très trashique!
If you want a piece of the VISIONAIRE styling pie, contact Cheng at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on IG, @visionairestyling!
All images come courtesy of Rui Cheng for VISIONAIRE Styling
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