The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 may have hosted their grand finale on February 20, but given those of us living and working in China’s capital were professionally snowed under (#weheartcheesy) due to said happening, Temper today quickly circles back to the opening ceremony on February 4.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: The term “Made in China” is undergoing the ultimate 21st century makeover — with a subversive twist. This rapidly changing landscape is a unique phenomenon that goes beyond the mere Summer/Winter collections; it waves the flag for the changes vibrating within China’s society-at-large today. The Olympic flag, even.
Escorted by the increasingly strong influence of a new thinking among China’s younger generations regarding individuality and the expression thereof, the fashion scene in the Middle Kingdom is exploding. And for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, independent local designers glided into the spotlight with their creations for the opening ceremony.
Take a look at these two widely celebrated gems: Wang Fengchen and Chen Peng.
Future in Retrospect
London-based Chinese designer Wang Fengchen (王逢陈) is famous for her futuristic modern grind culminating in her brand Feng Chen Wang. Her designs were worn by the flag bearers during the opening ceremony. The focal piece was a blue and white down puffer jacket with a mixed pattern of snow-white mountains surrounded by white and blue line drawings of Beijing landmarks.
Feng obtained her MA in Fashion Menswear at the Royal College of Art, London, graduating in 2015. Describing her aesthetic as “future-modern, authentic and multidimensional,” she focuses on technical deconstruction, creating unisex clothing that is functional but at the same time conceptual and personal, drawing on her own life experiences and Chinese heritage.
In one interview with CGTN, the createuse said that the Winter Olympics, including the opening ceremony, were really a “big thing internationally.” She felt proud to join such an event and believed it not just to be China rejoicing in the happening, but the whole world celebrating together.
“When I design, I always think about Chinese and Western cultures. The language is very important. Because you do deeply understand everything through it. That’s why when I make my design, I always mix things together,” she explained.
Wang is a Chinese designer; the culture is inherently part of her DNA. But she also appreciates her overseas acquired knowhow; it’s international.
Two Visions, One Fashion
Chen Peng (陈鹏), then, is an artiste suprême. He also honed his studious skills in London, the UK, majoring in Menswear Fashion Design Technology, and in 2015 went on to establish his eponymous brand there.
Chen, who won the Yu Prize last year, a program that identifies and supports China’s up-and-coming fashion talent initiated by investor Wendy Yu, designed several costumes for the performances directed by the almighty visionary (aka film director) Zhang Yimou.
The initial look was for the first act: Spring Awakening. Inspired by China’s 24 solar terms, the outfit was worn by 450 pole lifters who waved long green “glow-in-the-dark” sticks, mimicking the effect of “spring buds breaking through the soil, grass growing and flowers blooming,” the designer said on WeChat.
Zhang had explained he wanted to showcase a modern Chinese fashion vibe through a simple but contemporary design concept. And this is exactly what Chen did.
He created several looks for the grand overture, describing his overall body of work as simple, classic and, at the same time, reflective of the younger Chinese generations.
The designer and his team injected heavy doses of Chinese cultural background and time-honored crafts into the ensembles, like Yuxian County paper cutting created by famous heirs to this intangible cultural staple. Among others.
His second outfit was a hockey costume for the Display of Five Rings performance, a concoction combining hockey and multimedia art. Chen said he felt inspired by Chinese ice lantern and sculpture culture, integrated with many a hi-tech element.
Chen’s third design, for the Imagination segment, was inspired by speed skating; the result was one doused in a reign of red and Chinese knot imagery, a widely known symbol of beauty in Chinese culture.
Both designers put on an eye-opening celebration of passion and fashion, of Olympic inclusivity and diversity… The pioneering fashion scene in China. It is more than your mere cover shot; it’s the visualization of a changing social landscape.
FEATURED IMAGE: Display of Five Rings performance, fashion by Chen Peng, image via Women’s Wear Daily
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