Is it time for Milan to let Chinese creativity soar and shine? The just concluded Milan Fashion Week has hinted that Italian fashion insiders have a strong interest in Chinese brands. However, this propensity took longer than that of London: as Milan struggled against this boom (perhaps to preserve the reputation of Made in Italy?), London Fashion Week showed a strong appetite for Asian names. over the past decade.
It was therefore a surprise when Chinese designer Huishan Zhang – a staple brand on LFW’s program since 2012 – announced that he would present his spring-summer 2022 collection at the Italian fashion meeting. A short film was released during MFW to explore “the very real wardrobes of a fictional ensemble of women”. As the designer said WWD, “The show in Milan is for me a postcard to those who have supported us during the pandemic to remind them of the good times to come.”
Meanwhile, just a week ago, a bunch of Chinese brands were vying for attention at LFW. Taiwanese designer Apu Jan has announced his presence at LFW, hoping to share his heritage with a British audience. “Growing up in Taiwan, I had the chance to learn and explore the development of functional textiles and the application of imaging technology,” he said. Daily Jing. Perhaps the city, now a hub of technological innovation, seems more accessible to young talents from the continent? And back at MFW, craftsmanship is at the forefront.
Although names like Angel Chen and Shuting Qui are missing, new names have emerged like Annakiki. Designer Hui Zhou Zhao also rounded off Spring / Summer 2022 with a nostalgic show. The first object on display in the front row was a Chinese fan, inspired by 女 书 nüshu, the secret language of women in ancient China.
Ancient Chinese characters were neatly embroidered into the pleats of fan-shaped crop tops, worn with high-waisted palazzo pants. As the models glided across the yellow catwalk, we could breathe in Imperial China – but with a modern twist. After the show, Daily Jing met Hui Zhou Zhao to ask him about his foray into Milan.
Many Chinese designers continue to show up at London Fashion Week. Can you tell us what attracted you to Milan instead?
Of the four fashion weeks, Milan is the one that is widely recognized for its art and culture. Italy also pays a lot of attention to craftsmanship and, in my collections, I have always mixed craftsmanship and modernity. That’s why I think Milan is the right place for me to show my work. There is the kind of craft that I enjoy the most.
As a Chinese designer, why do you think Italy is a good market for your brand?
For me, Italy is not just a country of art and culture. Italy is also an international market. And when it comes to Chinese branding, it is also necessary to educate and introduce fashion insiders to the existence of brands that can speak a modern language while using uniquely Chinese elements. Italy is the market that allows me to do all of this.
Your Spring-Summer 2022 collection pays homage to the history of 女 书 nüshu. Can you tell us a little more?
女 书 nüshu is a secret language used by women in ancient China. When they couldn’t go to school, they invented this secret language to communicate with each other, so as not to be understood by men. Just like 女 书 nüshu, my Spring-Summer 2022 collection can be read as a symbol of strength, independence and feminism. I wanted to bring this aspect of Chinese culture to Milan Fashion Week to show Italy that China is not just what people think it is. There are elements of Chinese culture with very deep roots.
Are you also going to present your SS2022 collection in China?
We have already organized a fashion show for our Chinese consumers. I am happy that many Chinese women are independent and strong. And they found in Hui a way to communicate and express who they really are. They made it into an identity.