Marchesa: Chinoiserie as a romantic influence
The duo of Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig used Chinese culture of the past to make their dressy clothes modern originals.
“Why China? Why now?” I asked Georgina Chapman as the Marchesa show ended with lacy delicacy and pale coloring, that was occasionally brightened with the use of imperial red.
“Why not – I have always had a fascination with Chinoiserie,” said Georgina. “It is a culture that truly has an identity and I feel in the West we don’t get to embrace that quite as much.”
I am not convinced that the China of today flags up many historical effects that might be found in an era of jeans and T-shirts. But pastel colors like green tea and blush pink added a touch of the Far East to dresses shaped and draped to the body.
Shanghai glamour, on dresses that seemed destined more for the red carpet than the land of red lanterns, included gowns with their big skirts tufted with feathers. Metallic gold embroideries and other gilded effects gave just enough Chinoiserie without falling into costume.
It was all a romantic parade, without bringing anything new to fashion. But a Suzie Wong dress, slender and flowered, had an intriguing feel of Twenties Shanghai that seemed relevant to now.
Anna Sui: Blythe Spirit
The designer responds to influences of the past but makes them relevant to her world.
Layers of textures, colors, and fabrics filled the runway as Anna Sui looked back to past glamour. But she brought the memories of a velvet underground spilling over in rich colors up to date in her familiar, but charming way.
“It was Blithe Spirit – my favorite movie,” said the designer referring to Rex Harrison and Kay Hammond in the film adapted from the 1941 stage play by Noël Coward.
“The real inspiration was Elsie de Wolfe and her whole circle of friends,” continued Anna Sui. “I want that life again. I want that decadence. I want that opulence. Or I want at least the fantasy of it all.”
The wonder of this designer is that each season she continues to create an entire Anna Sui world, rich in color, complete in every detail, from the ink blue fur to velvet top and pants, darkly patterned.
Into the mix came Andrew Bolton of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and his “Blithe Spirit: The Windsor Set” exhibition, which ran from November 2002 to February 2003, that looked at the circle of friends around the Duchess of Windsor who also inspired Sui.
The skill of the designer is to be as rich in heritage ideas as she is light-hearted in fashion fun.