Presenting its Resort 2020 collection in Shanghai Wednesday was a big first for Chloé. The French maison had always held its shows in Paris and had never staged a runway show for a pre-collection before. For its first foray outside its home country, the label known for its patterned dresses, well-made boots and monogram C bags shrewdly chose China’s bustling metropolis, which is quickly becoming a key fashion destination for renowned designers. Coach, Miu Miu and Tommy Hilfiger are some of the industry giants who have transported their shows to Shanghai.
This time, fashion lovers descended on the waterside Long Museum, which rises against the dynamic Shanghai skyline and the tranquil Huangpu River. Creative Director Natacha Ramsay-Levi carefully picked the minimalist temple for contemporary and modern art for her show, which had a Chinese movie theme. (The French designer is known to have a fascination for the Fifth Generation of Chinese cinema.) “The way I’ve known Chinese culture is through cinema,” she told Women’s Wear Daily backstage. And as research, the Parisian native who has created a strong silhouette to empower women of all kinds, combed through the film works of great Chinese directors. As well as the likes of Jia Zhangke, Zhang Yimou, and Lou Ye, Ramsay-Levi took inspiration from famous Chinese actresses like Gong Li, Zhao Tao and Shu Qi, who was sitting front row. More of the country’s actresses were also present, including Tang Yan and Zhang Xueying, while Charlotte Groeneveld and Dana Hourani were some of the A-listers from the global crowd.
Even the show itself had a movie-like feel since the audience saw the models on-screen only before they got to see them in in the flesh. Once they were on the rooftop runway it was easy to see how the silhouettes paid homage to strong female characters while considering China at the turn of two centuries. Dualities emerged as matching ensembles provoked boyish encounters of tailoring and delicate flou. The synergy of preciousness and utility could be detected whether it was the blazers tied at the waist or the pyjama-style blouses paired with ample trousers in leafy silks, woodcut toile de Jouy and crinkled jacquards.
While playing with print and embroidery, odes to Shanghai’s belle époque were clearly perceptible, from a geometric archive logo in the Art Deco style to floral buds and blooms. Colours included classic Chloé neutrals, enamel shades of persimmon and cherry, terracotta, umber, saffron and cornflower blue.
For those who love touches of whimsical femininity, romantic blouses and dresses appeared with flounced sleeves and chiffon ruffles. They created a balance with the grounded workwear shapes of fitted jackets and belted coats transformed in flowering quilted satin, corduroy and suede. Skirts came in sheer embroidered tulle, raw denim and knife-pleated silk, whilst high flared trousers were cuffed or fall long in georgette, wool crepe and cotton jacquards.
When it came to the accessories, ladylike tropes of prettiness were united with youthful urban staples. And contrasts played a major role, with the patchwork of inspirations including lizard-embossed slingbacks, buckled loafer boots and bright, gum-soled high top trainers. Plus, there was a range of delicate jewellery pieces from hair combs to ribbon chokers featuring figurative serpent heads, baroque pearls and semi-precious beads.
Mirroring the collection’s graphic details, the Aby chain and lock-shaped Aby Lock bags were showcased embossed with the Art Deco archive logo, and the C bag was flocked or finished in floral leather marquetry. New styles included the spacious double-handled Aby bucket bag with stud and padlock hardware and the soft top-handled Faye in pebble-grained leather with graduated chain and charm details.