Saturday, May 18, 2024

Chinese-French cultural and business ties strengthened during Paris Fashion Week

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France loves to lure Chinese luxury shoppers to open their wallets in Paris. Now, the French government is hoping to lure Chinese fashion brands to expand their businesses here. 2024 marks 60 years since the two countries formed a cultural alliance and inaugurated the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism.

Ellassay fall/winter 2024 – Ellassay

Several events across the sectors are planned to mark the occasion of the full reopening of travel and promote culture, education, language, publishing, film, and television exchanges. The fashion segment brought the two governments, specifically from the Shenzhen District, to bring three mega Chinese fashion brands to exhibit during Paris Fashion Week.
 
Held at the Palais Brongniart at La Bourse, the Shenzhen Futian Fashion Day was planned and co-organized by the IFSC (International Fashion Strategy Committee of Shenzhen Municipal Futian District People’s Government) and SFDA (Shenzhen Fashion Design Association), supported by Shenzhen Municipal Futian District People’s Government is part of the ‘Welcome to Paris’ program by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode for the season. The showcase featured three brands—Ellassay, Yiner, and La Koradior.  
 
The first outing was commercially strong; the aesthetic may mostly closely resemble the mood of brands such as Michael Kors, Brunello Cucinelli, and Max Mara with a price point of $500-800 and is made from fabrics sourced in Milan and similar textiles used by Loro Piana, an interpreter for the design director, Martin Shen told FashionNetwork.com. Ellassay has approximately 300 freestanding stores in China and was established approximately 30 years ago. Shen noted that Paris offers more diversity in terms of designers. “The top brands are here,” he added.
 
“There is no other brand like us; our emphasis is simple tailoring with touches of femininity to achieve a perfect balance,” Shen said.

To note tailored styles such as a black dress whose contrast white neckline riffed on a tuxedo, a theme seen throughout, had large gold buttons for the feminine touch; ditto for black large paillette beading or black fringe dresses paired with tailored long vest jackets. Soft grey and pink combos offered a female touch on tailored suits and overcoats, while marabou feather frou was tempered when paired with embellished austere fine knits.
 
Yiner is another Chinese brand with three decades in business and over 350 stores with price points that average $500, according to its creative director, Liu Rui Yue, who has been at Yiner’s helm for four years. Conducting his interview in English, Yue described the brand as aimed at the sophisticated, mature 40+-year-old woman.
 
“Our brand is focused on really soft and wearable things, so it is important to show that with this collection,” Yue said, noting that most cashmere-based textiles are sourced between China, Japan, and Korea. Yue said women are also drawn to the quality cashmere items of the brand, noting they sell a cashmere down puffer coat as well as the comfort aspect.
 
Indeed, there was an ease to the clothes that gave a relaxed sense of ease without overpowering, citing the spirit of Loro Piana and Gucci, presumably the current version.

“Chinese women always like to show their curves, the shoulder, waist, and hips and don’t gravitate towards oversized clothing,” Yue continued, noting some popular trends right now in China are grey on grey styles, all black and monochromatic brown looks.
 
Thus, clingy yet drapey knits with shawl collars, full skirts with nipped waists and sleek, long-sleeve tops, midi-length soft wool cashmere styles, and lots of skirt slits marked the collection that was mainly in aforementioned neutrals marked by pops of a purple ombre effect and light blue. A cream-colored textured material on a skirt and trench intrigued.
 

La Koradior – Fall-Winter2024 – 2025 – Womenswear – France – Paris – ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

The third and final collection, was the newest brand of the group, established in 2012 and with its second head creative at the helm, Han Bing Xue, couture director. Speaking through an interpreter, Xue told journalists the brand DNA is romantic and elegant occasion dressing to be worn at “weddings, parties, birthdays and other important days.”
 
Xue explained that La Koradior was based on a trendy spelling convention during its founding. “This collection’s inspiration is based on the Phalaenopsis or moth orchid flower, and it means ‘happiness will fly to you,’ she said. The collection did have a more flirtatious mood than the two preceding it and displayed the most unique point of view.
 
Ironically, given the name, the first part of the collection seemed to draw upon New Look Dior as the nipped waist style dresses in cream; one shoulderless with a capelet and floral appliques and another shirtwaist style with side waist pleating and thin straps tied in a bow to emphasize the midsection especially rang true.
 
Purple and lavender styles followed that ranged from 1930s ruffles on an Olive Oyl-style dress, mini dresses, capes, and a cropped jacket with a slit skirt and large floral embellishment. The cream tone continued as a zig-zag fringe on a long skirt paired with a simple top or boxy mini dress. The lavender tone continued on stunning evening wear styles such as a simple sleeveless mini dress worn under a bare shoulder cape open in the front with an extended train in the back made from chiffon poof appliques.
 
The designer was elated post-show, saying showing in Paris on her third visit to the French capital was a ‘dream come true.’ Having a business in Europe and the U.S. is the dream for each brand, even in varying degrees of readiness; for La Koradior, it is top of mind, but with no specific plans to sell outside of China.
 
Yue said that the Yiner brand was looking forward to starting a project to open in Europe or the US and is among the top ten fashion brands in China. Chen said Ellassay plans to open in the future in the Western market but first plans to expand into Russia in the next year or so.
 
According to Wu Hong, chairman of Shenzhen Fashion Design Association, the city concentrates on high-end women’s RTW fashion brands and has governmental support.

“These brands were chosen because they are first well-known in China and have a well-established distribution network and because they want to expand their business internationally; they feel now is the time so the Chinese government will support them in this.”
 
The same day at the Hôtel de Crillon, outgoing Vogue China Editor-in-Chief Margaret Zhang hosted Chinese designer Zhong Zixin of ZhongZixin. A 2018 graduate of Central Saint Martins, Zixin is also the inaugural Chinese Designer Prize winner for Vogue China’s 2023 Fashion Fund, one of the many programs and changes Zhang brought to the Condé Nast title.
 
In the Salon des Aigles, Zixin, whose unique aesthetic is comprised of sculptural textures and feminine lines, the designer continued to explore the female form with a velvet dress that revealed mold plastic breasts and stomach separately popping out of the midsection of the gown, another paired a breastplate with a white gown with laser-cut floral fabric paillettes. While Zixin is primarily a ready-to-wear designer, her witty accessories are also a big part of the collection; to demonstrate glasses made with jade beads or other semi-precious stones blocked vision but made for a dramatic statement.

Caroline Hu Autumn/Winter 2024 – Courtesy

Another Central Saint Martins BA graduate, Caroline Hu, also showed during PFW.
 
While her ‘Reverie by Caroline Hu’ collection was showcased as part of the seven Chinese designers to participate in the Fashion Farm Foundation (FFF) Hong Kong Fashion Guerilla AW24 showcase, Hu also held a separate solo presentation, a cunning move for the designer as her clothes are deserving of this. The designer, also a Parsons School of Design Masters degree holder and 2020 LVMH prize finalist, used the occasion to unveil a Couture-level, made-to-order collection interspersed with a few key RTW pieces.
 
Hu’s designs fall into the romantic yet edgy and avant-garde zone, so think enthusiasts of brands such as Comme des Garçons, Simone Rocha, and Cecilie Bahnsen, at least in terms of merchandising them in a store such as Ikram and Maxfield where she sells in the U.S. (The brand is based in Shanghai, has a commercial office in Hong Kong, and sells at Alphabet showroom in Paris). Hu’s unique approach includes a proprietary technique where five different textiles become a singular textile through a technical process that results in complex yet ethereal fabrics.
 
The collection included styles that used inflated plastic cushions and padding combined with traditional sewing and draping methods for creations equal parts craft and couture. In particular, standouts included a floral chiffon inflatable dress and a massive black off-the-shoulder poet’s shirt-style gown with about 1000 hand-applied bow tie ribbons. A tiered gown using padding was also intriguing.
 
Hu spoke to FashionNetwork.com about her inspiration for the season.

“It’s about the relationship between people where I create a distance. It’s not like I don’t touch or hug people; it’s about inner feelings but rather saying, ‘I need personal time and more space.’ It’s protection through bright, happy floral patterns. The pillows are tools to translate what I want to say – it’s a bit dark on the inner side, but life is also about hope. Though you feel a bit of sadness in these clothes,” Hu said. Maybe, but it was pure joy to see them.

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