Chinese linen gets classy twist at Perth show

By Sun Yuanqing(China Daily)
Updated: 2017-02-17 07:37:22

Chinese designer Zhang Yichao (third from right) shows her collection of linen gowns and cocktail dresses at a recent fashion show in Perth, Australia.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Traditionally, Chinese linen is not seen as glamorous. But for Chinese designer Zhang Yichao, who recently took part in a fashion show in Perth, Australia, during the Spring Festival, it can be as sophisticated as silk and brocade.

And she proved it at a fashion show in Perth organized by the China Fashion Association and Fashion Council Western Australia.

Zhang's collection at the show, which also featured 12 Australian designers, comprised linen gowns and cocktail dresses in red, purple and green.

The collection made its debut in Beijing at the China Fashion Week last year.

Zhang, for whom the Perth show was her first foray outside China, is known for her bold use of colors.

She discovered linen via the Chongqing Fashion Week, for which she has served as art director for the past three years.

While working with the Chongqing Fashion Week organizers, Zhang was introduced by the local government to xiabu, or Chinese linen, which is handmade and dyed using natural materials.

The fabric has been exported to Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia over the years, but has rarely been used in the fashion industry.

So, Zhang, who won the 9th China Top Ten Fashion Designers Award and the China Best Womenswear Design Award of the Year in 2003, decided to take the lead.

Speaking about what prompted her to use Chinese linen mixed with silk and brocade to create a new look, Zhang, who is an executive member of the fashion art committee of the China Fashion Association, says: "While linen is part of our cultural heritage, we have to modify it so that it can be accepted by a wider market."

The collection's designs also included Chinese elements like the folding fan and porcelain.

This show is just the starting point for the fabric to develop into a more commonly used material for the mass market, says Zhang.

Kate O'Hara, the chair of Fashion Council Western Australia, says that Chinese New Year celebrations have been part of Perth's cultural landscape for many decades now because of its multicultural community

"Western Australia has a long history of business and trade with China but unfortunately not much when it comes to fashion and art," she says.

"So, this program meant Fashion Council WA could help celebrate the friendship with fashion, culture and art, and this is a significant step for our government and community."

As to how Zhang was chosen to showcase her collection in Perth, the ball got rolling at the Mercedes-Benz China Fashion Week in Beijing in October last year when O'Hara and Mariella Harvey, the creative director of the Fashion Council Western Australia, saw her clothes at the show.

Meanwhile, the Fashion Council WA and the China Fashion Association plan to work closely to develop a relationship to help young designers in both countries.

 

 

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