Christmas is coming. I thought I would do a weekly roundup of the most interesting or questionable gifts.
The ‘Business Class’ USB necktie from Dialog05 is frightening. It takes the analogy of ties to nooses to a new level. I prefer my ties to be decorative rather more practical. Still more classy is the After Office Tie from Sinapsis of Argentina. I guess stylish office boys won’t have to use their teeth to get at the lager any more.
I’m wondering if the Mulberry-Apple laptop bags will be available at the store in Sanlitun. This idea is going to be very successful globally.
I’ve always seen trailers as an extremely tasteful and stylish means of getting from A to B (they’re even chic as permanent residences). Though a step below sedan chairs and rickshaws, they are a valiant attempt at living a life of excess and they are available to the average American. The Opera trailer brings an iconic structure to your driveway and the highways. From Belgian architect Axel Enthoven,this would be nice for your next cross-Henan road trip.
Su Hang is a graphic designer who runs his a business with his wife, Mimi, in Beijing’s CBD. I met him at the opening dinner for a very chic new restaurant called Hanshe (汉舍) for which he did much of the design of promotional and other materials. Buying much of his wardrobe in Hong Kong, Su Hang normally dresses in a eye-catching manner.
Velvet jackets are fairly common, but one doesn’t encounter bow ties so frequently. It strikes me that that I should attempt to replicate this outfit for some of the upcoming holiday parties (that I am already hearing about).
What a rebellious outfit! I was pleased to encounter charming but irreverent Shanghaier Ding Ying (丁颖）the other day, after not seeing her for almost two years. She was the first editor from a major publication to profile me, not so long after Stylites started. Over a year after my profile appeared in the City Life section of Modern Weekly, Ding Ying suggested to her colleague Chen Pu that I might write a weekly column for them. I am especially proud of this, the only column that I write in Chinese.
After seven years at Modern Weekly, she is moving on next month to be features editor at a big fashion magazine. Maybe she will be the next Chinese female editor compared to Anna Wintour.
Funny that when googling, the first pic of her is with someone else who has been on Stylites.
I ran into my friend, photographer Anne Li - who has appeared here before – at the NOTCH (Nordic and Chinese arts) festival that just opened. Being a gentleman and a sophisticate, I immediately poured her some coca-cola in a champagne flute.
The press gift at NOTCH was the second best I have ever received: the collectible October 2009 Wallpaper* with its provocative Karl Lagerfeld cover. The best gift from an event I ever received was the full-sized bottles of Vidal Sassoon shampoo and conditioner received at the opening of Izzue in Sanlitun. I like swag I can use, as opposed to the multitude of passport picture holders and glasses frame liners one gets from the luxury brands.
Reading their comments in this Wallpaper*, Lagerfeld seems pretty arrogant and, despite all his brilliance and eccentricity, hollow in comparison to Philippe Starck.
Vanessa is from Harbin and her boyfriend is from Shenyan. She is a graphic designer and he makes 3D cartoons or something like that. They have been to Beijing for less than a year, but plan to stay.
By the way, Harbin is one of my favorite places in China. Feed a duck to the tigers in Siberian Tiger Park. The suspense is intense as the tiger awkwardly paddles through the pond in pursuit. The ducks just nonchalantly cruise along as if there is no monster cat a meter behind, but they sometimes do even escape, unlike the chicken or pheasants who have no chance. Also make sure to have a shot of an obscure vodka at the Russian Café, on Zhongyang Lu, probably my favorite café in the world. Shenyang is not such a must-see, though it does have a very manageably-sized mini-Forbidden City built by Nurhaci as well as several late-90s examaples of provinical “shock-architecture.”
This article on the condition of the China luxury market at Luxury Society quotes me about midway down. The main thesis is that Chinese continue to love buying luxury goods – the rate of growth in their consumption is the big bright spot for the industry - but they prefer to spend in Hong Kong and abroad due to lower taxes and wider selection. Those who can afford luxury goods can also buy a plane ticket and are eager to do so since foreign travel may be an even bigger status symbol than a braided Bottega Veneta. The main reason to invest in a shop here is to educate Chinese consumers so the brands are already by the time they arrive in Tokyo or Paris.
Th Financial Post (Canadian) echoes the theme that China’s luxury goods market is still buoyant. The article cites a study by New York’s Pao Principle that claims China’s elites buy Prada and Cartier to set themselves apart from their peers. Perhaps they should have said that the new rich buy luxury to differentiate themselves from the peasants and signal that they are members of an elite group. They seek to show that they are keeping up with their peers by buying the same stuff. Those appearing on Stylites want to show, through consumption choices and other methods, that they are not part of the crowd.
Last night, a senior fashion editor based here commented that Stylites rejects all but the the young and the slim. I always try to find stylish older people, but it is tough. When they exist, they are usually in restaurants or in cars on the way to dining, but more comments on this later.
The idea that I reject weightier people had not crossed my mind. It might be true although I might plead that Beijing lacks a sizable overweight demographic. Also, note that I display no addiction to conventional Chinese beauties – others have complained that there are not enough beauties on my blog. Of course, I might just be photographing those I rate as beauties.
Today the wind was blowing like it was about to go out of style. But, of course, it is one of the permanent things come October. We can debate whether wind creates beauty or disorder, but let us agree that it brings a mystery mixed with vulnerability to some pedestrians as they protect themselves from its gusts. One fact we know is she likes that sweet cheese concoction so popular on Nanluoguxiang. I think her succulent cashmere shawl comes from Woo Scarf, just down the street.
When I got home, my eyes were red and filled with dust, perhaps including some tasty fertilizer runoff particles just blown in from the countryside.
Well, he’s a bit above sixty, but he professes to love what the Party has done for him and he was the most interesting person I found on the square. I only made it to square in the very last hours before they removed all of the displays that were there for the bash celebrating 60 years of progress and prosperity under the reds. New comfort and wealth is probably what made all the tourists on the square happy, but the October One event itself seemed more of an old school dictatorship-style parade celebrating military prowess, nukes and all.
Anyway, jet lagged, I raced to the square not long after arriving from the States, hoping to find all sorts of bizarre provincials wearing dramatically overwrought ensembles proclaiming their new treasures. I longed for LV print alligator-skin coats with chinchilla fur collars or people walking stylish poodles. Failing the horde of brazen arrivistes, I thought there would at least be packs of dainty lads with bleached blond hair, ass-tight black jeans, Jackie O style sunglasses, leopard print windbreakers, and zebra print scarves and the equivalent females. Previous forays into the provinces have yielded visual delicacies such as these. The square was instead filled with a group that showed to me that rising living standards have brought less risk taking in fashion. The provincials are not an exciting bunch compared even to Beijingers I encounter in the subway. The homogeneity of the crowd was almost like a return to Mao suits, but that would have had quite a bit more charm.
The first shop of the largest American fashion retailer will open here next year, according to the LA Times. There’s much discussion there about where the Gap will fit into the retail landscape. The arrival of the Uniqlos, H&Ms, Zaras, C&As, and other foreign mass fashions is one of the big stories of the last years. Fast fashion took a lot longer to arrive than luxury brands – the middle class has exploded only after a wealthy class had already emerged.
How will Gap, with its more conservative designs, and likely higher prices compete for young buyers who tend to be more fashion forward than their US counterparts? Perhaps it will instead target an older group group of buyers, who might also have the physique to wear Gap’s more generous fits. The market actually does lack the higher quality (compared to Zara) basics offered by Gap and Banana Republic. Good, but affordable, simple office and casual clothes in natural fibers might be the main appeal of Gap or Banana Republic.
I’m not a big fan of Gap or Old Navy. Banana Republic has a few more items that I like, but it also doesn’t offer much that is distinctive. One can’t expect such large chains to have personality. Still, I would say that J. Crew has a bit more style. Anyway, all of them produce most of their items right here in big bad China.
At her No. 46 Fangjia Hutong studio, Lingxifang, Designer Xu Dong finds unconventional fabrics (like snakeskin print silk) for qipaos, but uses traditional embroidery and construction techniques. Garments are about 80% handmade by a tailor who schooled under Yang Chenggui, one of China’s most famous Qipao masters. Xu Dong, descended from the Qing imperial family like most Manchus in Beijing, grew up in a courtyard house nearby her studio, not five minutes from the Confucius temple. Now she commutes from an apartment by the Fourth Ring Road.
Fans don’t show up enough over the course of Beijing’s hot summers. Though http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhuge_Liang#mce_temp_url# wields a feather fan to alter the course of the wind and rains, this one immediately made me think of the famous strategist.