If you’re a Western fashion designer, now would be a good time to start quaking in your crypt. Taiwan has struck back against Western fashion dominance, with some technically tough, thematically strange, but strongly commercial ideas.
It really is turning into a contest between China and China for fashion innovations. A while back I did an admiring piece on Chinese Fashion Week, pointing out some very good production techniques. Now, Taiwan has thrown up a strong challenge.
The themes from Taiwan are still youth and irritating your parents to some extent, but the creativity is undeniable. There’s also some truly difficult fabric work, and if you’ve ever been in the rag trade you’ll see what I find so interesting.
There’s not a lot about this show online, which is sad, because it’s pretty impressive stuff. The slideshow content is the sole visual information available. Unlike Chinese Fashion Week, this has been heavily under-promoted.
However, check out the designs.
Slide 1 is a unique, layered concept. This is “fashion without borders” as much line as design, and a truly ambivalent design concept.
Slide 2 could be called optimistic.
Slide 3 is the strange, quasi Japanese look which is hard to define, even when it provides so much visual irritation. I’d say it’s a lot of fun for those who like that sort of infuriatingly femme look. (These outfits are also elsewhere on the slideshow.)
There’s a fair bit of asymmetry in this show, and Slide 4 is the start, a vertical wing on the side of the face. That’s very good design theory, but you’d need a genius to wear it.
Slide 5 is The Monster Look. Very useful for facial privacy and removing doubts about your social instincts. This is a great idea, and should be used by many fashion models to hide that comatose look we all can’t live without.
Slide 7 is the covered wagon/pram look. Useful for recovering alcoholics and people whose rear view doesn’t want to draw attention to itself. The real brilliance of this idea, ironically, is structural. There is such a thing as a load bearing fashion victim, and really, to be fair, this could be the beginning of a series of good concepts. Slide 8 is the head on view.
Slide 9 is more asymmetry, with Mickey Mouse shoulders and a mask. OK in theory, but outshone in this show.
Slide 10 is The Bulb. What’s interesting about this is the 3D, unexpected lines.
Slide 11 Spacesuit with bustle, similar to the covered wagon, but realigned. Interesting design work on the bustle.
Slide 12 ought to scare the hell out of every fashion designer on Earth. These are synthetics with mixes of other materials, and that, folks, is top line technology. Like the designs in Chinese Fashion Week, this could be called “Extreme Competence In Industrial Production”. Few Western designers could produce this standard with synthetics.
The designs are interesting, and they show what can be done with these methods. Ignore the gimmicks, and you’ll see a global design monopoly in the wings.
Slide 15 is notable for the design structure and the work. Note the very simple cut, and almost endless design possibilities. You could put the Louvre on this thing. This is one of the quasi Japanese ideas, Sinicized, taking the smock/kaftan where they should have been decades ago.
Slide 16 is Taiwan’s answer to the Chinese Fashion Week major forte designs. It’s opulent, and it’s competent. This is commercial fashion, and it’s all strong concepts. No messy bits, just good work.
This is starting to look like a whole new paradigm in fashion technology. Unlike Western fashion, Chinese fashion is working to a very different market. It’s also targeting the youth market in a way Western fashion hasn’t done for years. If you’re looking at innovation in fashion, it’s all China at the moment.
From a mainstream market perspective, this is also looking like a lot of new fashion in synthetics is possible. China may be reinventing and redesigning the Lycra phenomenon, and turning it into something which can get out of the movies and tired sports fashion modes and actually be worn in public by humans. If so, expect to see “Made in China” dominating your magazines in about 5 years.
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