Shiatzy Chen at Paris Fashion Week
Fashion is full of references. Of course a critique is not complete without references to past seasons, past coup-de-maîtres and past master couturiers. But there are also the current references. The pop references. The Lady Gaga references. The Anna Wintour references.
The powerful editor-in-chief, although not in sight, was the inspiration for the Shiatzy Chen collection, shown at the Beaux Arts at Paris Fashion Week last Tuesday. All the girls wore her famous bob and tinted glasses, along with some feminine but strict dresses, very working girl, with even a ‘first lady’ feel. Interesting how hair and make-up give the tone to the whole show sometimes.
On the runway, those girls, albeit different from the usual Russian casting, with more Black and Asian models, some even shorter than usual, looked like clones from a Sci-Fi film to me, all too prim and serious. It’s good to see that fashion gets realistic sometimes, with clothes to be worn in real life at work, but where is all the fun?
References also evoke different things to different people, and different generations. I idealise the 60’s I never saw, and snub the 90’s of my teenage times. This collection to me was very now, very modern. But also very American with its commercial fitted cuts, knee-length dresses, capris, prints and brights (Anna? Michelle?).
Not surprising when you know that Shiatzy Chen, rather unknown in Europe, is a Taiwanese commercial empire, set in 1978, that even includes a chain of branded upscale tearooms, where ‘customers show up for pricey afternoon tea meals’.
More the woman CEO type than the fashionista type. And throw in some Asian references, and this is all but Parisian. Showing at Paris Fashion Week makes it more than a risky fashion faux-pas. Would that be where the real risk-taking of this collection lied?
Photography: A look from Shiatzy Chen A/W 2010/ 11 Collection at Paris Fashion Week. By Alize Morand.