This past weekend there were several parties thrown by fashion labels and stores. At the parties, I spent most of the time talking to friends, but I did take a couple pictures. Here are Fu Yuanyuan, creator of Marzipan, and Andrea Jacomelli, of Nestlé. Andrea is wearing a three-piece suit from Senli and Frye. The waistcoat is single-breasted with notch lapels. Andrea is heading to Singapore next week, after spending two years in Beijing. The suit is in a light-weight fabric, but I suspect he will be shedding the coat frequently. While she was a PR executive, Yuanyuan worked for two years on the Nestlé account, though this was the first time she met Andrea.
Hervé is the Head of the Visa section of the Embassy of Switzerland. His family left Catholic Bavaria for Switzerland during the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) since they were Lutherans. Hervé retains a fondness for his family’s ancestral home and he picked up this lovely wool jacket there. Several of the guests at the party complemented him on his “Chinese style” jacket. There is a resemblance but it is difficult to find wool of this type in China.
This young lady from Reims was surprised that an American like me would not only have heard of her town but also know that it has a nice church.
Here is Tomasz wearing a jacket from Le Divan Studio, which just moved to a new home in Caochangdi. This was initially bad news for me. Aurelien and Tony, the creative directors, used to be my favorite neighbors when their studio was near my courtyard in the Deshengmen area of Central Beijing. The move was a good idea for them though. The new space is much bigger, providing much needed room for workshops and living quarters for their team.
In addition to several appearances on Stylites, Tony and Aurelian have been in more obscure street fashion blogs like the Sartorialist.
Slim black ties paired with a suit jacket and jeans as party wear are pretty tedious. Clearly many men believing donning such ties automatically moves them up several notches in hipness. This casual use of the tie seemed more interesting.
Stylites would like to wish all American viewers a Happy Thanksgiving. We would like to thank you for your continued viewing of styles from the hutongs and courtyards of Beijing.
Senli and Frye would also like to thank all clients for their patronage. If you have been considering an overcoat, please schedule an appointment as soon as possible as the coldest weather will be upon us in a few weeks. Over the next two months we will be announcing new Senli and Frye men’s handmade shoe and neckwear lines, so stay tuned.
So far today, I haven’t been able to find a photo that captures Thanksgiving in Beijing better than the one I posted last year. I wll be looking though.
Most locals can’t hear from his accent that Olli is an Englishman in Beijing. Whatever the nationality with which he contends, his approach has been to suffer ignorance and silliness with a smile. After editing The Beijinger for a couple years, Olli just left Beijing for Jakarta. As a long-term supporter of Stylites, he will be missed here.
He is wearing a casual autumn ensemble that any guy can achieve. A tweed jacket, wool cardigan, Italian leather shoes is a bare minimum for looking good. Sadly, this kind of simple, well put together, look is more the exception than the rule.
What could be more appropriate accessories for a hutong dweller than a bottle of Yanjing and a stray cat? A repeat cat rescuer, Mr. Gao is an oil painter living on a hutong running east from Nanluoguxiang.
I was rushing to a reception at 798 given by a foreign fashion designer when I encountered Mr. Gao. My goal was to photograph for Stylites, but I suggested he accompany me. The booze was sure to be flowing and he seemed already to be enjoying an afternoon of drinking. Since I had no invitation, it seemed an artist would get in and enjoy a night n refined society or, at least, society that does its utmost to appear refined. This assumption belies any appearance I may give of understanding social life in China, the fashion world, or life in general.
Mr. Gao dropped the cat at his house and we set off. Troubles began even before we made it to the taxi. Mr. Gao insisted on more beer for the two of us to enjoy on the road to 798. I wasn’t one to oppose a “walker” over which the two of us could bond during the long ride. Sadly, the instant after the shopkeeper produced our new beers, Mr. Gao accidently slammed the bottle he already had on the glass top of the freezer containing popsicles. The glass cracked. The customers and owner fixed their glance on the oddball whose own glasses happened already to be cracked.
The owner said all the goods in the freezer would melt and that he must pay compensation at once. The two or three humble patrons of the shop instantly appeared aggressive. One middle-aged woman announced that we must pay. When Mr. Gao said that he didn’t have enough money and that he was rushing to 798, the woman said that his foreign friend, meaning me, would have to pay. I pretended not to understand. Mr. Gao frantically repeated that we were on our way to an important event at 798 and that we couldn’t be late. The shopkeeper demanded money. Muttering about 798, Mr. Gao handed over his one hundred yuan note. We hastily exited the shop with yells and snarls following us. Feeling guilty for not paying, I felt angry gazes on my back.
Villains, we jumped into a cab before we could see whether the angry woman and shopkeeper were after us. Mr. Gao was protesting that we should take the bus, but I assured him I would pay for the cab. After a long ride of strained conversation in which I determined that he was around 40 and lived his parents, we arrived at the factory where the fashion event was being held. We entered, me trying to appear confident as possible, while worrying that Mr. Gao might present some kind of difficulty. I was there to take pictures, but quickly I realized that I would have to give my guest full-time care in an environment where he was such a fish out of water.
I snatched a glass of champagne at once, hoping this would be all my new friend needed to calm his spirit. The place was filled with the usual crowd of poseurs. As usual, my duty was to find the ones who were truly special, the ones that had a certain grace and substance. I always look for the people whose style or eyes suggest there may be something more profound, a good story, or, at the very least, creative affectations. China is complicated and dense. Despite this or perhaps as a result of it, even after all of these years, I still fail to unearth the gems.
Several people’s outfits were worthy of the mighty Stylites. Before I could photograph more than three, a security guard was tapping on my back. Mr. Gao was arguing with him. The guests at the event felt unsafe with such a vagrant like this around. Though the event was so casual that not a single person was in a suit, I felt like a real fool for having dragged the old boy into such an unsuitable situation. The guilt was mainly toward the artist himself. I have no idea if his art is worth anything, but it seemed wrong that I had caused harm to someone who had been rescuing stray cats an hour before. The guard said there was no way he could stay – no matter how famous of an artist he was. We rushed away from Beijing’s fashionable set and headed back toward the old city. I wondered whether I should regret my careless taste for spontaneity and misadventure. The night had not been a success in terms of photos for Stylites.
Shanghaier Shen Shen was accompanying her spouse to Beijing. She has been stylishly unemployed for some time, and spends some of her abundant leisure time viewing street fashion sites like this one. The cardigan and skirt are both “made in Japan” and she bought them used. Her interesting style comes mainly from the Anxi Market, described here as an emporium of retro goods that were cool then and are cooler now. On Anshun Road, it is a must-see for me during my next trip down to Shanghai, which should be next month. If all goes well, I will be taking street fashion pictures for a new Shanghai-based women’s magazine.
Yang Laji (洋垃圾) or “imported trash” is held accountable for both evil and good. Much is real trash like toxic waste and computers ready for poor villagers to take apart with their bare hands. This business causes cancer and other negative health effects in some regions. Even in the realm of fashion, the reputation is mixed. There was a time when clothes imported from the West and Japan were thought to transmit sexually transmitted diseases and be generally vermin-infested. This clothing was considered to be fit only for the poorest. In recent years, trendy used clothing, accessories and shoes have become increasingly popular. The prices are not on the level of Salvation Army due to rarity and the cost of importation. Shen Shen’s husband pointed out that without imported trash in the form of records and tapes Chinese rock musicians in the ’80s would never have been exposed to the Western music that has been such an inspiration for their work. Imported trash that brings The Clash is probably better than the kind that includes Cadmium.
Recognize these guys? They probably didn’t expect to be on posters all over Harvard. This photo along with around fifty others from Stylites are part of an exhibition called “Pop! Contemporary Street Fashion in Asia” opening this Friday, November 21. The opening will be from 7 to 10pm in the Piper Auditorium at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and will include wine, beer and images and garments representing street fashion from major cities of Asia, including Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Manila, Seoul and Tokyo. If you are in the Northeast, please charter a jet to go up to Cambridge. If you need accomodations in one of my homes in the Boston area or directions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
He could be one of the good guys in Mario Brothers – something about the hat.
I’m on crutches for another two weeks and this is less than ｈａｄ ｂｅｅｎ ｅｘｐｅｃｔｅｄ. It has been a trying time for taking photos on the streets. Sometimes I have to settles for people whose outfits don’t make a profound statement about fashion in China. This young lady is from the rustbelt Northeast and she is here in the city to make it big as a beauty. I say this at the risk of appearing sexist but she did have two photographers in tow and about an inch of make-up caked on her face. At the same, she had a very sweet way about her. What else might one expect from a girl wielding a whirly device such as that one?
The Dior exhibition opening – the event for VIPs was the night before – had quite a few men dressed like this. Dark slim ties were paired with waistcoats or cardigans while casualized dinner jackets worn as separates were a favorite on top. Slim denim with patent leather shoes were common.
Both the coat and the scarf are original designs of this gentlemen.
The number of skilled craftspeople is fast declining in the UK, according to this piece from the Independent. Most of the artisans capable of doing advanced handwork needed for haute couture in companies like Burberry Prorsum and Mulberry are over fifty. American Shoemaker Allen Edmonds faces the same problems, says the New York Times. They will either have to hire immigrants or send the work over to China, which they have always worried would mean compromising on quality, since the emphasis is on mass production here.
Interestingly enough, here in Beijing at Senli and Frye, we could be facing the same problem in the future. The small group of artisans that crafts our suits are all over forty. This reflects both China’s status as a low-cost manufacturer of assembly-line type goods and the career aspirations of younger craftspeople. Of course there are young tailors in China but they tend to either work for a big company or start their own business. At the same time, most young people in fields related to fashion prefer the lofty road of design to being an artisan. As I search for companies here in China that could produce a shoe line for us, I am constantly reminded that there are only big factories. Smaller specialty or high-end shoe crafters like Allen Edmonds are hard to fine. I will be learning more about this in the future.
This fabulous Christian Dior exhibition at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art is a must-see, and I am rarely so positive. The designer’s beautiful creations from the 1940s and 1950s make it worth the price of admission, despite having to wade through the generally obnoxious of Galliano. The conception and design of the exhibition are innovative as well as entertaining. I’m just sorry that I had to rush through because I was on crutches. The narrow walkways that made me more concerned about keeping my footing than looking at the art.
This former model and present editor at Madame Figaro captures a style that one sees a great deal at fashion events and magazines here in China. There are quite a few recent runway looks mixed together here. There is no fear of an angular kind of drama The style is harsh but not macho, esoteric but not eccentric. He is a noble from the future.
This jacket that also seems distinctly futuristic is an original design by its wearer, a Belgian curator at the Ullens Center. It was a perfect choice for an exhibit that seeks to blend Western fashion with Eastern art. He also had on beautiful J. M. Weston shoes.
From London, Emilia is an intern at the Beijinger who just arrived in town. She hopes to do more in the field of writing about fashion. With every woman being so dolled-up and glittery at these events, it is always the simpler, more humble and cute styles like this that catch my eye. Or maybe I just find the vamps too intimidating.
My mission was again to photograph the best dressed men, but my state made accomplishing the mission difficult. A huge number of well dressed people escaped me. Events are just so tough. I also have to learn a lot more about flash photography. It is also hard to steal enough space to get full body shots. That said, fashion parties are really the best events in town. Events with free flow of champagne and all the guests trying to look their most fabulous are just so much better than the grinding tedium of typical nightlife.
Not only does this young hairdresser look like Elvis, he also comes right out and claims the Maowang (cat king – Chinese for Elvis) as his main style inspiration. Elvis was long a symbol of the West for China, but it is heartening to find the younger generation keeping the spirit alive. Recently, I have been having another dry spell when it comes to finding girls. Hopefully, it will end soon.
This gentleman from Hong Kong is doing the casual waistcoat thing well. I’m normally not so positive about them, check my earlier entry on waistcoats around Beijing. Despite my formerly condescending attitude about waistcoats, I decided to commission a double-breasted velvet one in gray with shawl lapels that can be used casually and perhaps under a morning coat for winter weddings, if they occur.
It is really quite chilly today. If you would like a Sen Li and Frye overcoat, this would be the time. Right now, we will be offering a complimentary dress shirt with any order of an overcoat. Email: email@example.com to schedule an appointment or send a text to 13910092410.
It is a great time for wearing suits as well.
When you watch movies from the fifties or those pictures of Cary Grant, I am always struck by the slimness of the ties – often combined with surprisingly thicker lapels and not exactly narrow collars. In any case, it is always a dark slim tie that they wear. Here an imperial crown motif is added to the tie – a nice touch.
This thick oversized sweater is being used as autumn outerwear.
Here other photos of men from the Marciano by Guess that should have been posted earlier. My mission, for a major men’s magazine about to start up, was to find the stylish dressed men. Being on crutches presently made photography a difficult proposition.
This is Toni Mak, Regional Visual Merchanising Manager for Guess, Asia Limited. He is based in HOng Kong. Every single item except for the cane was purchased at Guess.
From Sweden, Ali Nosrati is the Product Manager for the Dowdy fourhundred, a company that makes leather bags for men. Ali is holding one of these bags. The “dowdy” refers to people who are unfashionable and unattractive, while “the fourhundred” refers to society’s elite and the number of each of their products that is produced. Check the website for more. Also of interest to me was that Ali is of entirely Iranian descent. My father is 100% Swedish and my mother’s family is from Iran.
To wear a leopard-print scarf with confidence, I would probably have to drink more than orange juice. This is quite a look on this professional stylist though.
Raymond is the Senior Manager of BD for P1.cn, a social netorking website that also has street fashion pictures. It is an interesting sport coat with a chain closure and leather trim on the quarters.
Serious cold is about to arrive. Please come to Sen Li and Frye to augment your collection with coats made from our Mongolian wool/cashmere blends and English coating. Starting this weekend and going through Sunday Nov. 16, we will be offering a complimentary dress shirt with any order of an overcoat. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment or send a text to 13910092410.
And it is always a good time to commission another suit.
These two public relations executives show what us that there is nothing stuffy or square about being a young professional in Beijing today. Sometimes I feel an injection of some stuffiness or traditionalism of some type (I guess it’s not traditionalism here) would feel fresh in this environment. In all likelihood, they are even more fashion-forward and sexy than their colleagues who work in the New York or London branches of the same company, which I think was Hill and Knowlton or perhaps one of the other daughters of WPP. For the gentleman, I would prefer a longer jacket and perhaps the color navy, but black and short are the way to go these days in Beijing. If you are young, why not wear a shorter jacket? Altogether a sassy and appealing pair.
As she watched Obama’s acceptance speech, while scanning the audience for famous rappers, Shanxi-born PR executive Yuanyuan shed some tears. This emotional response came because it was so moving to finally see an American president who could put two sentences together. Obama’s rhetorical ability might not equal Chairman Mao’s, but it was better than that of a kindergarten student. Explaining her other reasons for crying she said “America is still America!” and that the country she knew when she was growing up had now regained its spirit. After so many years of making cynical jokes about the United States, she feels that the country finally has hope.
Acknowledging that it is quite boring to always talk about Obama’s ethnicity, Yuanyuan observes that it has taken centuries for the West to surmount its history of prejudice. She encourages Americans to remember the amount of sweat and tears of civil rights activitists that went into bringing this outcome. Developing countries will find this outcome most inspirational, she says. And finally the country has a beautiful first family!
At the same time, Yuanyuan acknowleges that expectations will inevitably be too high and the new president has to face a huge number of challenges including the recession and the wars started by the previous administration. As this article in Chinese from Sohu says so well, we cannot treat Obama as though he is a god, because the problems faced now demand no less.
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