Until March 2022, Shanghai spent most of the “Year of Covid” with little to no lockdown. The international outbreaks of 2020 caused a massive return to the homeland. Chinese models and photographers returned en masse to China’s busier-than-ever fashion and financial hub, while New York, London, Paris and Milan came to a standstill. Emerging Chinese designers have moved their businesses home, followed by a wave of graduates from fashion schools like Parsons and Central Saint Martins who would otherwise stay abroad to intern at international houses. Shanghai’s fashion scene has never been so vibrant.
“Shanghai has been on the rise in terms of creativity and design. There are so many new brands. Chinese famous designers evolved and opened a new chapter. The city was really becoming a unique cultural center on the world stage,” says designer Ming Ma from his apartment in Shanghai, where he has been holed up. Last week, he walked out of his apartment building for the first time in 60 days. The first thing he did was ride a bike around the city for hours.
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In fact, after the Chinese New Year, the quarantine measures began in Shanghai, Lu Xiaolei (Deputy Secretary General of the Shanghai Fashion Week Organizing Committee, affectionately called Madame Lu in local fashion circles) and what It should have been a busy schedule of Chinese designers. ‘ shows, they found themselves at a dead end.
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Construction halted on Xintiandi’s regular exhibition pavilion during Shanghai Fashion Week. Overseas-educated designers or manufacturers in other cities dumped work-in-progress in Beijing, Guangzhou, London, or New York. Those who returned to the city after the holidays to shoot catalogs and design sets before the show, hastened to leave or buried themselves at home with their unfinished collections.
“Shanghai Fashion Week was supposed to start on March 25 this season, but the rise of Covid in Shanghai has brought us back to unprecedented times,” says Ms. Lu. After delaying the launch by a week, then two weeks, then a month, it became clear that Shanghai Fashion Week’s 20th anniversary offline celebration wasn’t going to happen any time soon. A call was made to go digital for Fashion Week, now scheduled for mid-June to give Madame Liu and her team enough time “to help designers succeed with sales and marketing plans”; to give designers the opportunity to organize the production, adjustment and filming of samples remotely. Now the verdict is out. Faced with the greatest uncertainty the local industry has seen in recent years, China’s independent designers have put on the strongest fashion season in Shanghai to date.
The image may contain men’s coat and raincoat
Photo: courtesy of Ming Ma
The image may contain men’s clothing, coat, hat, long-sleeved, coat and dress.
Photo: courtesy of Ming Ma
A fierce optimism pervades the collections, most notably in the continuation of the vibrant hues of global fall shows. Ming Ma’s interpretation of “hot fuchsia” (the hue of the season) and his famous “Ming Ma yellow” shifts the high-voltage brushwork to Gilded Age silhouettes and references to oil painting. “My work has always been about color and texture…balancing glamor and utility…but this season I just wanted to work with tones and materials that really put a smile on my face.” Meanwhile, Samuel Gui Yang strove for a more introspective and nostalgic playfulness, contrasting familiar comforts like the traditional Chinese shirt or jeweled greens and reds, jumpsuits, and boiled wool. Speaking to Vogue from his Airbnb and unexpected place of seclusion (the designer usually lives in London), Yang cites a quote from American science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin that she “has life in contempt” as reason for his examination. . vulnerability for decades. “But it’s not a negative connotation of looking down,” she adds. “It’s more about judging where you’re standing as a kind of posture. A gesture in the face of uncertainty”.
The image may contain clothing coat man suit and coat
Photo: courtesy of Samuel Gui Yang
This contextualization of the present in relation to the past and of China in relation to the world (what Yang calls “the crossroads of ages and cultures”) is the theme of the season. in an ecosystem
Some still plan to hold scaled-down versions of their in-person show plans as a kind of closure (and content capture). Others, like Fashion Week first-timer Ting Gong, are already raring to go for the October shows. “Let’s not call this one my ‘first collection,’” she says of her would-be debut. “This is just ‘Collection Zero’—like a preface, pointing in the ideological direction of the real first collection.”
So, as Shanghai residents spill back into the streets; as Madame Lü and her team prepare for a three-day livestreamed digital fashion week bonanza; as our Chinese designers rush back to their studios to revive tired pot plants and triage production decisions after a long hibernation; China’s fashion industry breathes a sigh of relief. The kids are going to be alright.