You cannot deconstruct unless you know how to construct. - Alexander McQueen

The Shanghai Gesture permalink

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a big fan of designs coming out of Australia and the surrounding area because of their wearability. The s/s 2006/7 collection from New Zealand designer Kate Sylvester is a good example of this fine-tuned practicality. Inspired by the fusion of East meets West in Shanghai and Hong Kong, Sylvester’s “Young Ideas Go West” collection draws in part from the Shanghai Moderne culture of the 20s and 30s, complete with variations on the cheongsam.

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Kate Sylvester’s “Jade Dress”, s/s 2006/7

More from Sylvester’s s/s 2006/7 collection, “Young Ideas Go West” (all from

kate sylvester ss 20067 lily_dress_tammy_singlet1.jpg

kate sylvester ss 20067 donna_dress.jpg

kate sylvester ss 20067 lotus_top_cindy_skirt1.jpg

kate sylvester ss 20067 jo_jo_polo_kitty_skirt1.jpg

kate sylvester ss 20067 lucky_top_lynette_dress1.jpg

kate sylvester ss 20067 pearl_top_lucky_top_lydia_skirt1.jpg

kate sylvester ss 20067 lucky_top_may_dress1.jpg

Sylvester’s collection aside, there has been much talk lately of Shanghai in the media. The focus is mainly on the growing international interest in Chinese contemporary art with Shanghai as hub. As the fashionable crowd floods in for the art, shops and architecture they seek jazz bars that cater to the western fancy of a decadent past, sipping on a cocktail and drinking in the old spirit of Shanghai Moderne (Wong Kar-Wai, incidentally, is making a film called, “The Lady from Shanghai” set in the 30s which no doubt will add fuel to this fire).

children in meeting 8 zhigang tang.jpg
An example of contemporary Chinese art: “Children in Meeting #8″ by Zhigang Tang. I picked up this print at a local market, but more of his work can be seen here.

Purveyors of luxury goods have been giddy about China’s new power of consumption for years. It has been said that the vision of modern Shanghai has as much to do with the art scene and architecture as it does a booming economy that embraces consumerism. I’ve never been to Shanghai but like any other westerner the allure for me is to be able to sample a tourist’s taste of what I see in “The Blue Lotus” – Shanghai Moderne. The question of whether or not the city’s art, economy and draw of an international community can create something unique and truly modern will be answered in time.

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English edition cover of Hergé’s, “The Adventures of Tintin: The Blue Lotus”, 1936

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