It's "Alice's Adventures in New York." Chinese designer Vivienne Hu, bringing her latest collection to the 2019 New York fashion week, conquered the stage with vibrant and youthful looks featuring colorful plaids and floral laces.
With a total of 37 new looks, the collection was inspired by Lewis Carroll's renowned novel "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."
Hu, an investment-banker turned designer, was among more than 20 Chinese designers who presented their fall/winter 2019 collections at the fashion week.
Some of them were frequent participants of the event, like Hu and Wang Tao, while some are relatively newcomers, like Leaf Xia, making her first appearance here, and Lin Yajun, who debuted at the fashion event just two years ago.
STRONG INTERNATIONAL STANDING
For Wang Tao, recognition from the global fashion arena has come naturally. She has been serving female leaders globally since launching her namesake brand Taoray Wang, seeking to add a feminine touch to the otherwise rather dull professional looks for career women.
"People think smart women can't be too pretty. That's wrong. I want to change that," said Wang, adding that elite women who want to dress differently are a customer base not so many designers focus on.
The brand rose to fame in 2017 after U.S. President Donald Trump's younger daughter Tiffany wore a white double-breasted coat from Taoray Wang to her father's inauguration.
"It's lovely to have someone who can see me as inspiration and I see her as one as well," said Tiffany Trump, who has attended Wang's shows regularly for the past two years and has worn Taoray Wang pieces on many important occasions.
Customers like Tiffany love Wang's designs because they are able to show their personality in an office setting.
Amy Zhang, partner and portfolio manager of Fred Alger Management, a private investment company, is a long-time client of Wang. She said she especially loves the detailing in the sleeves of a Taoray Wang suit, where a touch of red Chinese silk has been added to create fluidity.
"She's truly an artist who bridges the East and the West," Zhang said.
REDEFINING "MADE IN CHINA"
As "made in China" somewhat used to be related to inexpensive, poor-quality products, Wang feels it's her obligation to redefine it.
Silk from Shanghai was an important fabric for haute couture and fashion houses in Europe back in 1920s and 1930s, said Wang.
"Because Chinese fashion labels have increasingly come under the limelight at world stage in recent years, it's time for the label 'made in Shanghai'" to restore yesterday's glory," the Shanghai based designer said.
Likewise, Vivienne Hu noted the rapid growth of Chinese fashion industry.
She said the Chinese market has already seen a group of successful companies in fabric design and development, and a new generation of freethinking fashion designers are increasingly capable of taking over the old world.
"The Chinese market is mature enough to incubate affordable luxury brands or even luxury labels," said Hu.
With the goal of building her namesake affordable luxury brand as a world-renowned one, Hu opened two stores in New York city's SoHo, a neighborhood in lower Manhattan known for artists' lofts and art galleries, as well as a variety of shops ranging from trendy upscale boutiques to national and international chain store outlets.
Her designs combine European elegance with New York street fashion while incorporating exotic Asian elements. At the heart of her design philosophy is the spirit of independent women, displaying both femininity and individuality in a unique way.
Last year, Hu presented a collection that was inspired by murals in the Mogao grottoes in Dunhuang, a 1,600-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site in northwest China.
The designs captured the essence of timeless art through rich amber, indigo, green and cinnabar tones that famously color the walls of the cave, and embraced the synthesis of expertly layered silk garments and distinctly cut knits, with tailored wool outer layers lined with furs.
The looks were praised immediately after they came out and remain among her most well-received pieces of designs to date.
Leaf Xia, a first-time comer to the New York Fashion Week, surprised and amused her audience by collaborating with Hello Kitty, an iconic Japanese brand featuring the cartoon image of a cute cat.
Her 10-minute show displayed more than 20 vividly colorful outfits in oversized shapes and covered with a kaleidoscope of cartoon images and collages.
Holding Hello Kitty dolls in their hands, models turned the finale of Xia's show into a teenage girls' party with energetic strides, vibrant poses and sweet smiles.
Xia told Xinhua after the show that by using romantic colors and cute styles, she wanted to demonstrate that sweetness could also be powerful for women.
"It's a sense of overcoming hardness with softness," said Xia, referring to the ancient Chinese wisdom. "When I was designing this collection, these colors actually gave me a lot of courage."
Also at the latest fashion week, popular Chinese brand Harbin Beer put on an experimental show that blended traditional Chinese culture and American street art.
It is rare that a brewery could voice its own fashion ideas at a global fashion center stage, let alone collaborating with another brand.
The show started with a short music piece that was a fusion of Peking Opera and R&B, followed by a catwalk show debuting a collection jointly presented by Harbin Beer and American sports brand PONY.
Coming after the runway show were Kung fu, lion dance and hip-hop dance performances.
(Xinhua writer Chang Yuan contributed to the story.)