3 posts tagged "Shu Pei"
Cristóbal Balenciaga reputedly made only three journeys afield in his lifetime and certainly never traveled anywhere as far-flung as Asia. However, forty-odd years after his passing, the house of Balenciaga, with Alexander Wang at the helm, staged its own intrepid China expedition, bringing forty-eight archive pieces to Beijing.
Handpicked by Wang, the selection from Cristóbal Balenciaga’s Parisian years (1937 to 1968) highlighted the key pieces in his oeuvre. “I think it would be doing an injustice for everybody not to see it,” Wang explained. Enshrined at the center of the exhibition, therefore, was the famous Infanta dress (1949), which shows the unremitting influence of Balenciaga’s Spanish heritage on his work; the Babydoll dress of 1958; and the famed wedding dress from his last collection presented in 1967.
Though he epitomized that old world of couture, Balenciaga was the greatest pioneer of them all. Blockbuster pieces aside, the Fishnet dress (1964), an overlay of net upon a black sheath inspired by the fishermen in his hometown of Getaria, and a reversible fur-lined silk-nylon coat (1959) were just a few examples of the utterly modern. A little-known fact about the famously reticent designer was his penchant for filming his presentations in the last decade of his career, and the videos provided illuminating glimpses of “the master of us all” at work. A suit worn by Marlene Dietrich in the 1950s and the Sari dress, a design owned by Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, and Dodie Rosekrans, also served as a reminder of his legendary clientele.
The venue, the China Academy of Oil Painting, was chosen for the church-like structure in its midst (actually the school’s lecture hall), where Balenciaga’s SS’14 collection was presented. “We could have easily shown the Fall collection,” Wang explained before the show, “but I wanted something that would penetrate immediately.” Along with the existing outfits, therefore, the models (Shu Pei, Ming Xi, Xiao Wen Ju, Hanne Gaby Odiele, et al.) sported fifteen new looks from a capsule collection released exclusively in Balenciaga’s China stores immediately following the show.
Shu Pei working a trim merino tuxedo is a sight for sore eyes—and it’s one that we were privy to last week when Joseph Altuzarra invited Style.com to his fourth-floor studio in Tribeca. The occasion was the lookbook shoot for his International Woolmark Prize capsule, which he’ll present to an esteemed panel of judges (including Franca Sozzani, Frida Giannini, and Style.com’s Tim Blanks) during Milan fashion week on February 21. As the victor of the national competition, which he won with a baby pink wool suit back in July, Altuzarra will represent the U.S. in the final round and compete against the U.K.’s Sibling, India’s Rahul Mishra, Australia’s Christopher Esber, and China’s ffiXXed for a grand prize of 100,000 AUD. “It’s an incredibly prestigious award,” said the designer, who recently sold a minor stake of his company to Kering. “Winning would be a great accomplishment for my team and me—and obviously, the cash prize would be very helpful.” He told us that the spoils would go toward expanding fabric production and development.
Judging by the woolly looks we saw on the designer’s rolling racks, he’s got a fighting chance. Comprising of clever knit dresses, a fit-and-flare black coat, layered skirt and sweater ensembles, and Pei’s tux, the mini collection is simultaneously signature Altuzarra and not, mainly because he experimented with a new (for him) method: needle-punching, a practice that seamlessly bonds two fabrics together via a gradual woven transition (see a sneak peek of the effect, above). “It’s not normally a technique I would use because it has a very different association than what the Altuzarra world is,” he explained. “It’s a bit crafty, and almost a little hippie in spirit.” However, there’s nothing “hippie” about Pei’s tux (or the rest of the collection, for that matter), which boasts the flippy little peplum we’ve often seen from the designer. In this instance, the needle-punching was used for the jacket’s fuzzy back panel. (It looks deceptively like fur.) Elsewhere, it was employed to create a degrade effect on frocks that are fuzzy on top and sheer on the bottom, and fuse bulky, textured knits with smooth, solid fabrics.
As for inspiration, Altuzarra ended up doing some thorough historical research. “Obviously, we were thinking about wool,” said the designer of the 100 percent merino collection. “But we wanted to work inside the Altuzarra vernacular, which is quite sexy, sensual, and seductive. I started thinking about how iconic wool garments were, and how they’ve been staples over time.” His key references were fishermen’s knits; 1950s skirt suits; and Brigitte Bardot’s soft, saucy sweaters (see his mood board, left). The latter motivated him to include a soft pink in his palette. Black, gray, and neutral hues are also in the mix. “I wanted to focus on technique, and the colors are quite pale so that you could really see what’s happening,” he said.
Altuzarra offered that he’s looking forward to meeting Woolmark’s other four finalists. Competition is bound to be fierce, but Altuzarra is hoping Pei, who will be accompanying him to Milan, turns out to be his ace in the hole. “When I first started and did my very first show, I cast her,” said Altuzarra. “She was the biggest model we had, so I was very, very, very excited. And I actually realized three seasons ago that I haven’t had a show without her since. She’s my good-luck charm.”
Check back next month to see Altuzarra’s exclusive diary from the competition.
Lane Crawford is one of the Far East’s premiere shopping destinations, and for its Fall campaign, the store stayed close to home. For the new images, shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Lane Crawford selected a fully Asian cast of models, runway and campaign stars all: Liu Wen, Ming Xi, Shu Pei, Fei Fei Sun, and Xiao Wen Ju. Marie-Amélie Sauvé styled the beauties in pieces from the collections of Alaïa, McQueen, Balenciaga, Celine, Givenchy, Haider Ackermann, and more. Above, an exclusive first look at the new campaign, and below, behind-the-scenes video straight from the set.