Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Fairytales and Fables at Shiatzy Chen's SS19 Show in Paris

Fine grained, beautifully tailored coat-dress worn with new mesh booties at Shiatzy Chen's SS19 ready-to-wear show in Paris
Fables and fairy tales were at the heart of Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia's new Spring/Summer 2018 show for Shiatzy Chen in Paris. Frothy confections of black and white lace were mixed with sporty, stream-lined looks and finely embroidered tops and jackets making an engaging and wearable collection, writes Antonio Visconti. Edited by Jeanne-Marie Cilento

Pink trees, pomegranates, cranes, rabbits
and Pekingese people Shiatzy Chen's
new collection
THE fairy-tale graphic designs of pink trees, pomegranates, hedgehogs, a white rabbit, a red-crowned crane, a Pekingese,  and mahjong for Shiatzy Chen's new show in Paris gave a hint of what was to come. Founder and creative director Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia based the new collection on an imaginary, magical world of beauty and transformation where mahjong tiles turn into butterflies and beetles, the East wind blows and time stops and the pomegranate trees are laden with fruit. The set design of the show with a bright blue door, path of mahjong tiles and Chinese symbols also gave the whole collection a fable-like atmosphere.

These ideas form the basis for the prints and designs of the new season's collection with its light, frothy confections of lace mixed with sporty and stream-lined looks and delicately embroidered tops and jackets. Cranes, ducks, rabbits and landscapes with bridges and storks are printed or embroidered on coat dresses, silk bomber jackets and long, column dresses with a Mandarin collar. Many skirts and dresses were quite short mixed with longer mid-calf looks. But it is the beautifully worked Chinese embroidery with a modern ethos is at the heart of Shiatzy Chen's collections.

Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia based the new collection on an imaginary, magical world of beauty and transformation

Delicate embroidery is part of
Shiatzy Chen's signature idiom
Eighteen years ago, Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia started collaborating with Xiang and Suzhou embroiderers in China to apply spun-yarn embroidery, counting stitch, french knot, appliqué, drawn-thread and cut work to her designs. All of the new collections feature different themes that highlight exquisite embroideries. The designer's contemporary tailoring is combined with traditional embroidery to create something new and fresh. 

This season the collection included a variety of stitching, with delicate flower motifs in brilliant colour against a black background (see at right) plaid designs and new fabrics including a specially developed jacquard plus lace, satin and cotton. The palette was dominated by black and white leavened with vivid pink, deep purple and blue, gold and carmine. There were some new standout lace-up, mesh booties that looked both stylish and comfortable and will no doubt be highly desirable plus sporty sandals and Mary Jane shoes. Other accessories included travel bags, jade bracelets and purses with leather stitching and colourful patterns.

Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia originally founded Shiatzy Chen in 1978 when she was 27 years old and her aim was to create a new Chinese aesthetic that mixed traditional craftsmanship with a Western idiom. Today, the luxury fashion house is often called the Chanel of Taiwan. Growing up in a family of seven children where she was the eldest, in Taiwanese Changhua, a city with a rich cultural history, Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia needed to develop skills to help the family and decided to design clothes. Although she was not formally trained in fashion she learnt by working at her uncle's factory.

Shiatzy Chen was founded on a new Chinese aesthetic that mixed traditional craftsmanship with a Western idiom

Diaphanous stripes and polka dots
cinched with a Shiatzy Chen
belt
By the 1970s, she and her husband, Wang Yuan-hong, a businessman in  textiles, founded the Shiatzy International Company Limited. The designer worked for more than 30 years to establish her name in the local market as one of the few homegrown designer labels in Taiwan with a clientele including politicians and celebrities as well as international clients such as Elizabeth Hurley and Victoria Beckham. In 1990, Shiatzy Chen set up a studio in Paris to stay on top of fashion trends and to learn more about Western dressmaking techniques. The studio is also used as a place to train Taiwanese dressmakers and designers.

Shiatzy Chen opened a flagship store in Paris in 2001 and has continued expanding with emporiums around the world including Beijing and Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur.  More than ten years ago, the company opened a second large factory of 6000 square meters, in Shanghai alongside the existing one in Taipei. The new factory was designed by German architect Johannes Hartfuss to accommodate a workforce of more than 1,000 employees, including dressmakers and embroiderers.

Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia is proud of her Chinese roots and uses this influence in her work with subtlety and imagination

As light and frothy as whipped cream,
this lacy SS19 creation
Ten years ago, Shiatzy Chen debuted at Paris Fashion Week, making it just the second Taiwanese design house to have shown on the official schedule. By the next year, in November 2009, the company became a member of the Chambre syndicale du prêt-à-porter des couturiers et des créateurs de mode (FHCM).

It was Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia's insistence on high-quality craftsmanship and her team's dedication and focus that allowed the designer to enter the hallowed halls of the Paris fashion world. The whole family is involved in the Shiatzy Chen business. Didier Grumbach, former president of the FHCM, has said that while Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia is proud of her Chinese roots she uses this influence in her work with "subtlety and imagination" combined with a high level of quality and design.

He went on to say that this makes Shiatzy Chen close in spirit to French luxury brands and was another reason it was elected as a member of the French Federation.

See more highlights from Shiatzy Chen's SS19 Paris show below
Founder and creative director Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia based the new collection on an imaginary, magical world of beauty and transformation.
Cranes, Mandarin ducks, rabbits and landscapes with bridges and storks are printed or embroidered on coat dresses like this one above.
Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia originally founded Shiatzy Chen in 1978 when she was 27 years old and her aim was to create a new Chinese aesthetic that mixed traditional craftsmanship with a Western idiom.
Ten years ago, Shiatzy Chen debuted at Paris Fashion Week, making it just the second Taiwanese design house to have shown on the official schedule.
It was Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia's insistence on high-quality craftsmanship and her team's dedication and focus allowed the designer to enter the hallowed halls of the Paris fashion world.
Today, Shiatzy Chen as a luxury fashion house is often called the Chanel of Taiwan,
The designer's contemporary tailoring is combined with traditional embroidery to create something new and fresh. 
Beautifully worked Chinese embroidery with a modern ethos ~ here subtly tone on tone ~ is at the heart of Shiatzy Chen's collections.
  
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