Looking East

Julie,

I’m always interested to track how the prevailing world view and current events affect fashion.  With all the recent turmoil in the Middle East, you would think it would provoke an increased interest in cultural influences, including fashion and design, from countries like Egypt and Iraq.  Perhaps since women’s fashion in that part of the world  is limited due to religious restrictions, Middle Eastern styles are not burning up the Paris runways.

China, as an economic and social force, and with its 1.3 billion inhabitants, wields great influence in the world.  China is currently the largest single holder of U.S. government debt, which puts the country forefront in the minds of many Americans, particularly our representatives in Washington.  As such, I think we will soon see Asian cultural elements appear (or, reappear) in more U.S. art forms, including fashion.  After all, they do have 5,000 years of cultural history from which to draw from.

Vogue did a full fashion spread in China in their September, 2011 issue (you can see it here). 

Although the photos of model Karlie Kloss were taken at cultural spots throughout China, I didn’t feel the clothes reflected a Chinese aesthetic. 

In fact, no Chinese designers were used, rather the spread featured designs by Balenciaga, Calvin Klein and Stella McCartney. 

In contrast, an Asian influence is clearly apparent at Ralph Lauren.  Not only did he feature Chinese model, Sui He, in both his fall runway show and in his fall ad campaign,

 

but he also incorporates design details which reflect the Asian culture, like in the model’s jade earrings, above, as well as on this jewel box of a purse, 

and on this elegant evening gown.   

The dragon is the historical symbol of the Emperor of China.  Here it conveys beauty through the beading, but also a real sense of drama and power.  Wow.

I hope we see more of this in the spring.

Ann

Images: Top two are from Vogue, bottom three are from Ralph Lauren.

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