Ji Cheng A/W 2012 by Geiko Louve
Chinese designer Ji Cheng’s first show in London was held at Vauxhall Fashion Scout on Tuesday 21st February, the last day of London Fashion Week’s womenswear. Jumping ahead of the queue I had a chance to examine my front row goody bag – a proper mini version of some of the bags that later appeared on the catwalk designed by Ji Cheng, not a tote! – and to look through the slides projected on the wall at the start of the runway. The slides showed models dressed in Ji Cheng’s designs posing at striking Chinese landscape locations, mixing with traditional Chinese life activities or getting intimate with some sexy Chinese pottery makers in their workshops. Some showed traditional pots at a rough, unfinished stage that made them look more like minimal, contemporary western pottery.
Ji Cheng A/W 2012 by Love Amelia
Indeed Ji Cheng has a passion for Chinese traditional culture, but her collection, according to her ‘combines the essence of classic Chinese art with modern Western techniques and tailoring’ and she wishes to emphasise through her work ‘the combination of Eastern and Western culture’. For example, Chinese inspired elements such as Kimono wrap dresses, short stand-up collars and thick embroidered belts were on show, but so were some minimal skirts, blouses and shirts fit for a nine-to-five job in the office.
Ji Cheng AW 2012 by Deborah Moon
The designer from Shanghai named her A/W 2012 collection Zen Awakening and one could easily see that some of the smoothly draped overlapping lines on the garments and the loose way in which they fell over the body were influenced by Zen monks’ robes and cassocks. This influence was further evident in the model who opened and closed the show, with a striking shaved head like that of a Zen monk. In the press release Ji Cheng made an effort to explain the title Zen Awakening using some rather heavy zen philosophical phraseology such as ‘thought is not thinking’ and referring to ‘higher states of unity’, which I rather enjoyed reading in relation to a fashion show.
Somewhat relevant to the above, the colour scheme of the show was presented in groups of colours. It started with a focus on a traditional Chinese vermilion, then it moved on to more earthly, brownish hues, followed by a number of mainly white pieces, then a number of mainly black ones and finishing off with the last two numbers which had an iridescent, silver hue. In that way it was a bit like the clothes were following the developmental stages – represented by the different colour groups – of a soul on its journey towards Zen Awakening. Scattered here and there were flashes of fluorescent green or orange, like little moments of realisation along the way.
The pure vermilion, so characteristic of Chinese culture, did not only make an appearance on the clothes, but also on the models’ faces, whose make up was a very toned down, western version of the reddish make up applied on actors taking part in Peking Opera productions – a theme which has been an inspiration for a previous collection by Ji Cheng.
Ji Cheng A/W 2012 by Dana Bocai
Quite a few of the dresses and blouses featured a very interesting back with cut out panels or huge statement bows. Some of the models carried in their hands really beautifully shaped clutch bags and the shoes had a fabric front, held in place by long ribbons which were tied around the calves in a zigzag fashion. A lot of them left the heel totally exposed, which I thought was not so fit for the modern woman.
This was a pleasant collection with an interesting philosophy behind it, so I hope to see how Ji Cheng’s brand La Vie develops over the following seasons showing in London.
All photography by Maria Papadimitriou
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