Return to Purity

By Huang Tingting in Gansu Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/7 5:03:39 Last Updated: 2016/10/8 7:29:52

Pierre Cardin launches latest collection in China’s western wilderness


Models take the runway at the Pierre Cardin fashion show at the Yellow River Stone Forest National Geopark in Gansu Province on September 19. Photos: Courtesy of Zhang Shuang

Nine years after its mind-blowing 2007 desert fashion show in Dunhuang county, ­Northwest China's Gansu Province, Pierre Cardin has vowed a return to ­simplicity by heading back to the bleakness of China's western regions for its spring-summer 2017 collection launch.

Though returning to Gansu, the fashion show changed things up a bit by ­heading to Yellow River Stone ­Forest National Geopark in Jingtai county, which offers a natural runway ­meandering through barren stone hills alongside the Mother River of China.

This barren setting was a great fit for this year's theme of purity, which ­emphasizes a connection to nature and the removal of redundant fashion elements.

According to Fang Fang, the brand's China director and supervisor for the launch event, it takes courage to put on a show out in the wilds since it presents a challenge combining natural ­scenery and clothing design into one great package.

In this respect, the Pierre Cardin show seems to have been a success.

Models take the runway at the Pierre Cardin fashion show at the Yellow River Stone Forest National Geopark in Gansu Province on September 19. Photos: Courtesy of Zhang Shuang

 
Bleak beauty

On September 19, guests invited to the show arrived at the geopark's entrance in cars, where they then rode in donkey carts (still a common local means of transport) to head deep down into the valley, where the event's runway was located.

The show kicked off around sunset. The fading sunlight reflected off the cliff sides of the stone hills against a darkening sky created a poetic interplay of light and shadow that seemed to toy with the imaginations of the audience.

Several donkey carts along with a small patch of grass next to a leafless fake tree were the only decorations along the 150-meter silver-white runway.
Among the 150 designs in the new collection, colors of soft and pure tones were used instead of intense bright colors and complicated patterns.

Characteristic Pierre Cardin geometric designs and flower elements, however, added to the richness of the visual details.

The day-wear collection started off with dark-colored one-pieces decorated with metal accessories and brightly ­colored geometric patterns, among which the men's jumpsuit series stood out with their brilliant cuts and lines.

Following, business attire made from natural fibers echoed the brand's calls to return to nature and simplicity.

In suits for women, the occasional use of bright reds, purples and blues with layered designs on the shoulders and fronts was a surprise, as they gave off a modern and elegant feeling that the previous looks lacked.

Light-green and light-blue sleeveless one-pieces with delicate flower embroidery were very eye-catching.

In his new evening wear collection, Cardin went with long hems. The gowns, of ankle- or knee-length, though not short on the use of flower decorations and folds, showcased excellent lines with their pressed pleats.

Before the end, the show reached a climax when 10 child models walked out to the patch of grass, each holding a colored balloon.

They "reincarnated" the leafless tree with these colorful decorations in a move that reaffirmed the beauty of purity.

The young models' clothing designs were pretty much a miniature version of the adult collection, a reflection of the line's unified style and elements.

Models take the runway at the Pierre Cardin fashion show at the Yellow River Stone Forest National Geopark in Gansu Province on September 19. Photos: Courtesy of Zhang Shuang


China ties

To be sure, Pierre Cardin's choice of China was by no means some random pick. One of the first Western ­fashion brands to become known by the ­majority of Chinese, Pierre Cardin entered the market in 1979, just a year after China announced its reform and opening-up policy.

The brand's 1979 debut show at the Cultural Palace of Nationalities in Beijing, led by none other than Pierre Cardin himself along with 12 French models, was the first fashion show in the country after the ­establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

For quite a long period after that, the show was seen as a symbol of social status and Western modernity.

A black-and-white photo taken at the time, featuring Cardin in an overcoat striding along a street while Chinese citizens all pretty much wearing the same clothing looked on at him with curiosity, gives an idea of the impact Western fashion brands  had on the fashion aesthetics of the Chinese people.

While the brand remained in high esteem in China during the 1990s and is still an influential fashion brand abroad, the influence of Pierre Cardin in China is declining.

Instead of being displayed in the window of boutiques everywhere, the brand, and even copycats, are now found at street peddlers' carts and in cheap stores, largely due to the loosely-managed nature of its franchising license in China.

The Paris-based high-fashion brand's revisit to China this year, to some extent, can be seen as revealing its ambitions to revive its failing image and once again tap straight into the country's blooming luxury market.



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