China Fashion Weeks: Beijing ‘catching up’ with fashion capitals but Shanghai has the star factor


While Chinese actresses including Huo Siyan, Li Xiaolu and Lin Peng were some of the most snapped celebrities during last month’s Paris shows, the recent Beijing Fashion Week’s increasing attempts to compete with the fashion capitals are slowly paying off -- with more A-list stars, extravagant runway shows and exciting homegrown design talent preceding what is expected to be a star-studded Shanghai Fashion Week.

From classic red-carpet ready gowns at Eternal Color Xie Ping to S&M-themed get-up at She Guang Hu, China Fashion Week in Beijing showcased the country’s emerging design talent from March 25 to April 1, with the likes of Guangzhou-based menswear creator Cabbeen taking the lead from the international fashion capitals and pulling out all the stops on runway décor.

While it may not yet compete with the extravagance of the spectacular steam train that hosted the Fall/Winter 2012 Louis Vuitton show in Paris, models at Cabbeen’s presentation strutted down a shimmering white mountain-like runway that wouldn’t have looked out of place at Paris or Milan.

“The biggest change is China’s fashion designers are getting good at holding fabulous shows. Compared to 15 years ago, China's fashion designers are more aware of the importance of the runway decor, details, and models. Cabbeen spends a large amount of money on runway decor. Some of the projects and high-tech equipment on the runway can catch up with those from A-list fashion labels in the world,” China Daily fashion writer and regular Beijing Fashion Week attendee Darren Gan told Relaxnews.

While Gan acknowledges Beijing Fashion Week did pull in big Chinese celebrities such as actor Zhang Hanyu, who attended the presentation for menswear label Septwolves, Shanghai Fashion Week -- which kicks off April 11, will feature “many more stars.” The city often dubbed the "Paris of the East" will welcome an array of Shanghai’s rising design talents such as Helen Lee, who has been recognized via international awards such as Belgium's Les Etoiles De La Mode and luxury brand La Vie, which blends traditional Chinese cultural elements with western cutting and design style. International labels such as France's  Agnès b., Britain's PPQ and Italian brands Massimo Sforza and Mazzi will also present their latest designs. Plus, while the Chinese fashion elite are in the city on April 12, Gucci will present its first Chinese fashion show on The Shanghai Bund, presenting its men and women's Fall/Winter 2012 collections.

But as European brands including Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Chanel lead in the Chinese marketplace, the French capital still remains the only unmissable fashion week, more so than Milan or New York.

“Louis Vuitton and Chanel are among the first labels coming to China, and fashionistas are keen on seeing their shows, so Paris Fashion Week is much more popular compared to the other three international fashion weeks,” added Gan.

That said the fashion writer cited bridal and eveningwear designer Lan Yu (“China's Vera Wang”) and Wang Yutao, who also presented his sports tailoring-inspired label Beautyberry in Berlin earlier this year among the most original presentations of Beijing, adding that buyers were attracted to the wearable designs by Cabbeen, Septwolves and Red Dragonfly, who presented Parisian-inspired menswear creations.

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