Buzzing Chinese brands like Susan Fang and Pronounce showed during London Fashion Week (September 16-20), Shuting Qiu took to the catwalk in Milan (September 20-26), and Didu, Rui, and Caroline Hu opted to show in Paris (September 24-October 6). The question beckons: Who was left in town to steal the show at Shanghai Fashion Week SS23?
Handmade and Hands-On PRONOUNCE: Gender Sharing Is Fashionably Caring
Repeated COVID-19 outbreaks and ensuing lockdowns throughout the year forced Shanghai Fashion Week (SFW) AW22 to reschedule its shows this spring. Doubts swirled around whether its SS23 edition would be able to move ahead. An announcement in July from organizers confirmed that the show would go on, but at an earlier date than usual. Typically, SFW takes place after the Chinese national holiday from October 1-7.
This season, designers juggled and jumbled to meet SFW’s deadlines as the event happened two weeks earlier than customary due to the impending Communist Party of China’s National Congress meeting in Beijing — which is likely to secure an unprecedented third term for China‘s main man, President Xi Jinping. #nowyouknow
So, from September 22-30, China’s fashion capital hosted 84 physical shows and 12 trade shows homing in on local designers—those left in town, that is.
Truth be told, the effects of Shanghai’s lockdown earlier this year lingered, with buyers more prudent when purchasing, in turn negatively affecting new designers trying to secure a coveted spot in the industry, one showroom exec who wishes to remain anonymous told Temper.
However “buzzkill” that may sound, Temper looks at the glitzy, glam and glorious side as some domestic brands managed to conjure up elements of surprise, testifying to the raging and raving creativity China Fashion stands for.
The hottest tickets this season—in our humblest of opinions of course: UNTITLAB and WINDOWSEN.
UNTITLAB (born in 2019) is a creative platform dedicated to footwear and fashion accessories. With a core design concept drawn from founder Peng Xin’s background and sensibilities, the brand “focuses on the intermediate stages of the creative process, erasing borders and achieving an organic unity by experimenting with materials and silhouettes”—in the brand’s own words. UNTITLAB’s shoes are nothing if not arresting. Lustrous black tops, luminous foci, puffy tongues, and oversized military soles, the footwear looks like an amalgam of oxfords and combat boots.
And what about that name, we hear you ask… Yea. The platform takes its name from artists unable to give a title to their works.
During SFW SS23, UNTITLAB staged a live performance titled “Delirium,” which featured masked models wrestling, venting and stomping around a dark room–while onlookers had to be careful not to step on a naked male model lying on the floor.
“It was an intimate presentation. You could feel their rage and anger up close,” Chinese influencer Moli Dai told WWD. “It’s more attractive when the designers express a certain truth about themselves.”
WINDOWSEN is the brainchild of Chinese-born Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts graduate Sensen Lii. His creative “contingency” combines traditional women’s couture and men’s sportswear, positioning itself right on the crossroads between both.
Again, what about that name? The brand name merges Windows (the operating system) and the creative director’s own name Sensen, the main themes of technology and out-of-this-worldliness running wild throughout his glowing body of work. Big shapes, bold colors, heavy sparkles, metallics and dashes of tulle set the tone.
The brand’s influence in today’s pop culture is a blossoming force to be reckoned with. Lii’s “post-human-world” creations been seen in music videos or on musicians across the globe: in K-pop (think BLACKPINK‘s “How You Like That,” MAMAMOO’s “Dingga,” CL’s “Lover Like Me”); in C-Pop (Jolin Tsai, Sammi Cheng); and on the international charts— the list goes on.
For SS23, Lii continued to build on the universe he’s created. Titled “THE REINCARNATION OF MX RIDICULOUS,” WINDOWSEN presented a mix of Lucha Libre (Spanish for “free fight”) aka “freestyle wrestling.”
One might almost dare assume “wrestling” was a recurring theme at this year’s SFW, perhaps unsurprisingly so following the city’s long lockdowns earlier this year. As always, there’s a lot more to the clothes than meets the eye… #PTSD?
Anyway, featuring big and bold runway looks, WINDOWSEN’s select pieces showcased the label’s more wearable side with its signature sportswear-infused designs. Worn by a cohort of mostly friends, artists, DJs, rappers and Shanghai’s local Voguing community striking a pose, Lii managed to put on a spectacular, spectacular show. Which no words in the vernacular could describe.
To top it all off, the runway turned into a rave afterward.
Summing up: 1) many prime SFW showponies opted to present their latest pizazz abroad — interestinggg; 2) SFW itself saw a handful of designers flirting with their “darker” sides, releasing some built-up anger and frustration — fashion for social thought. One thing is sure, though…
The show most definitely did go on.
FEATURED IMAGE: WINDOWSEN at SHANGHAI FASHION WEEK SS23, IMAGE VIA HYPEBEAST
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