When thinking of the world’s fashion epicenters, Beijing usually does not come first to mind. Although not quite to the extent it would have in the fad-laden cities of Paris and New York, the genuine effort on Mercedes Benz’ behalf allowed Fashion Week 2012 to come alive in Beijing. Held in the industrious 751 D-Park, bordering the famed 798 arts district, as well as the city’s iconized Beijing Hotel, fashion week transformed these spaces into exhibition-like spaces with cloth-covered runways and scaffold-supported, stadium-like seating.
Despite put forth their best efforts, many of the local and domestic Chinese designers’ shows did not quite validate one’s connotations of a glamorous runway extravaganza. However, I must admit, besides the Versace catwalk grand finale spectacle, there was one designer that caught my eye for his fashion forward use of fur. Wu Xuekai for the lustrous house of MAGIC FUR, showed his creativity through the dyeing, altering and fusing of various animal furs. Furthermore, his use of color blocking, especially through radiantly vivid accessories, like tights and shoes, perfectly juxtaposed the similarly colorful but more dulled hues found in his dresses and coats.
Beyond the MAGIC FUR showcase, majority of the other catwalk shows proved their designers to be still enrolled in sewing school in comparison to their US and European post-graduate counterparts. To remain unnamed, these designers’ collections seemed childish in their stitching techniques and cost-effective with their chosen fabrics. Comically, one designer even incorporated a heart-shaped cutout into the back of one of her wedding dresses. These collections wandered far from conveying any understanding of haute couture, and rather revealed their desire to appease a generalized and newly wealthy population captivated by lacey frills and rhinestones galore.
This past Sunday evening, ELLE and Mercedes-Benz teamed up to say goodbye to fashion week with a bang. Rumored that liquor sponsor, G. H. Mumm, gave over 500,000RMB worth of champagne, one can imagine the enormity of this event. Held in one of D-Parks massive + empty water tanks, the space was morphed into an exhibition hall of sorts that not only included an illuminated catwalk that wrapped around the entire stage, but also a stage large enough to fit two Mercedes, room for several performances as well as two free-flowing champagne bars and seating for nearly 300 invited guests. Clearly both ELLE and Mercedes recognize the need for fashion weeks to incorporate a show from a large and established house, yet unfortunately for Beijing’s smaller and lesser-known scene, this show comes in the form of a “surprise” during the closing events. Perhaps as both Beijing and China continue to develop their sophistication and mature their tastes, these fashion houses will see the importance of debuting collections in the world’s Eastern half.