When you consider Chinese fashion, what ensembles do you envisage? Flash several years back (before the Met showcased China: Through The Looking Glass) and most Westerners summoned mental images of mass-produced clothes; each spiritless piece steering dangerously close to decay after the third wear.
By the mid 2010s, though I wasn’t exactly hunting, I had yet to encounter any deep-dive read on independent Chinese designers… Then I stumbled upon Gemma A. Williams‘ game-changing, ground-breaking tome, Fashion China, and my once-bereft knowledge base was transformed.
A talented comrade of the London Irish club, Williams coupled her curatorial role at the Fashion Space Gallery with extensive research on China’s flourishing design scene (also studying its gifted expatriates); assembling a team of industry savants to select the brightest of these burgeoning makers. A staggering 41 designers featured across Fashion China, their collections dismantling those trite ‘Made in China’ tropes through exciting concepts, opulent textiles and technical brilliance.
As we near this decade’s curtain call, it’s safe to say that Chinese designers have garnered serious clout: Pitti Uomo’s recent “Guest Nation China” segment featured a sleuth of forward-thinking labels, from Pronounce to Percy Lau, whilst Shanghai Fashion Week (for which Williams has published prolific reportage) attracts an ever-evolving flock of spectators each season.
With SFW’s latest edition primed to launch this month, Williams’ schedule is likely bursting-at-the-seams: alongside freelance fashion curation (her colour-bursting showcase, Hi! Fashion, is a personal favourite), she operates as Ordre’s Fashion Content Director and has co-directed two critically-acclaimed operas thus far, Wear and Robe…
Tell us you’ll do a Dublin run!
Words: Amelia O’Mahony Brady