Taipei IN Style celebrated its 13th Edition presenting its usual array of runway shows, seminars, and one-on-one opportunities to meet with individual fashion designers from Taiwan and surrounding Asian countries. Coordinated by the Taiwan Textile Federation, Taipei IN Style presented its Autumn/Winter 2016 Collections from April 14 to April 16, 2016. Schön! reveals why Taipei demonstrates significant promise in the Asian fashion industry as an influential metropolis with much to offer.
Taiwanese fashion brand Plate Movement presented a multicultural array of urban cool outfits. Founders Chao Min Juan and Yu Chang Lee originally came from a law and visual design background, but eventually found a common passion for clothing design. This season’s collection highlighted oversized garments such as asymmetrical skirts and eccentric detailing, with tassel accessories and ring hoops. “Every person uses a different culture to define himself,” Chao describes. “We might drink coffee from Brazil in the morning, but eat sushi from Japan for dinner. Every day is mixed with diverse post-cultures.” The creative duo took the collar of an American polo, stitched it to the silhouette of a Chinese qipao, and splashed a tribal necklace for an overall innovative editorial look. Unexpected elements such as furry pockets and slit sleeves contributed to this very modern twist. According to the designers, people are like continental plates, and relationships are plate movements. This collection gives us hope that we may be able to create real movement by what we wear.
“Fashion sucks” according to Justin Chou who sliced labels and pieced them together in refreshing ways. Chou received his fashion education in Milan and graduated from Domus Academy in 2005. He then launched Just in Case in 2007. Chou designs an ultra-niche, cult label for the boldest city slicker. His newest collection comprised distressed and painted jeans with handcuff detailing. Reworked overalls exuded a dangerous street vibe; a Nike swish evolved into a Puma pounce for a humorous statement on logos. A Chicago Bulls jersey was styled with a jean skirt and midnight-blue tulle. Needless to say, we were fascinated with the choice of models, albino and tattooed, that added to the rebelliousness of Chou’s spectacle.
One of our favourite designers was Wang Li Ling, Creative Director of the fashion label WANGLILING and founder of DARKLIGHT DESIGN Studio. Her clothes were showstoppers, and some pieces even glowed in the dark. After attending an all-girls’ middle and high school in Taipei where students had to cut their hair to a boyish length, Wang had the opportunity to discover fashion by studying abroad with two other girls from Europe. Her fashion sensibility developed through the influence of her artistic mother and grandmother, and eventually attended Shih Chien University for fashion design. “When I went clubbing with friends, we wanted a way to check our makeup at the table without having to go to the women’s room,” Wang recalls. “We came up with an idea to make a bag out of mirrors and LED lights. It was my first work that combined technology and fashion.”
Wang decided to further her fashion education by enrolling in Central Saint Martins’ MA Textiles Futures programme, where she focused on the subject of light and natural elements. However, she did not get the chance to graduate due to her mother losing her vision and having to fly back to Taiwan to be with her family. “The doctors asked me to check my eyes since they were similar to those of my mum’s,” Wang explains. “They discovered I had lots of little holes in my eyes. I had three surgeries within a few months.”
Wang’s newest collection highlighted couture that drew inspiration from water and technology. Translatable from day to night, hand embroidered garments evoked sophistication whereas outerwear presented an oil-in-water glossy effect. A triangle mosaic mirror dress reflected red laser light at the end of the dynamic show.
Seule Sou is a hair accessory brand based in Japan. Designing for seven years, CEO Sumiko Miwa showcased her new collection for the very first time in Taipei IN Style. Each headband is meticulously sewn and crafted by artisans using silk, Swarovski crystals, rhinestones, and other fine materials. Miwa’s “Seule Ruban” is fashioned out of Velcro so it does not slip off the hair, and comes in three different sizes so that users can create their own unique look.
Japanese brand Growing Pains is led by iconic figure Mademoiselle Yulia. A DJ at the origin, Yulia has been designing for one year and concocted a textural collection filled with pop hues and fur neckpieces for the streets of Tokyo. She takes a modern spin of the 70s, drawing inspiration from music, movies, and underground cultures.
Established in 2011, Austin W. evoked pure modernity with sleek silhouettes and cuts. This season, designer Austin Wu took us on a journey to the Middle East with spice colours of paprika and peppercorns. Transparent, pleated skirts provided a sense of comfort and blouses with metal piping added a contemporary feel of sophistication.
After graduating from New York City’s Parsons The New School of Design, Taiwanese designer Cecilia Chang founded Ceci in 2014. Chang dresses the ultimate modern woman with crisp staples: raw edged coats, softly draped dresses, and clean cut skirts. Chang’s strong sense of minimalism and refined silhouettes make her a designer to watch out for. She has also created an impressive sterling silver jewellry collection, drawing inspiration from the elements of nature.
Daniel Wong presented his newest collection, To Wander, a romantic tale brimming with butterfly patterns and visually exciting prints. After having worked for Alexander McQueen and Versace, Wong returned to Taiwan two years ago to start his own brand. His elevated sportswear collection of 3D mesh and silk pieces recount a tale of explorers from the past and discoverers of the future.
Creative Director Seo Eun Ju and Design Team Manager Yi Mihwa of Korean brand Answering Bird aimed to marry a modern Seoul and European aesthetic in their new collection of striped garments. Strict lines of laser cut fabric in sky blue, cream, and pink radiated a seafaring charm. Their oversized silhouettes are fashioned for the free woman who finds answers not in what she wears, but in the comfort of her own skin.
Watercolour landscape prints on airy tunics cascaded down the runway at NAIF by Hsu Chiu-I. Models wore fresh yellow and blue eye shadow with rosy lipstick; paper floral headpieces decorated their hair. Splashes of painterly hues were printed on translucent silks; organza shift dresses demonstrated lively movement for a colourful show that proved to be a breath of fresh air.
Taipei-based leather goods brand LLAGUT highlights a blend of modern design and polished simplicity. Established in 2013 by Taiwanese and Spanish co-founders Chichen Lin and Miquel Rey, LLAGUT utilises fine Italian leather to craft adorable and multi-functional bags. They are dubbed with clever names to describe their shapes such as “pomelo,” “mailbox,” and “spring roll.”
The newest collection of Rawpiece draws inspiration from everyday objects such as toys. There is the circular yo-yo bag with an extra-long strap, a square bag with rubber bands as fasteners, and key wallets crafted with metallic fisherman tools. The industrial and geometric design of Rawpiece’s leather goods demonstrates a balance between creativity and functionality.
Athena Chuang had fun in the shadows with a gothic array of intricately pleated black gowns. There was a hint of Dracula in capes with flowing sleeves, in addition to the models’ black-rimmed eyes and blood stained lips. Sinisterly sweet lace and ruffles provided a slinky movement to garments. Chuang’s strong storytelling made a memorable impact.
Madammay presented charming dresses for teatime and gowns fit for a luxurious ball. A very diverse collection of flower prints, polka dots, and tropical motifs were fashioned for the world traveller. A European flair and an ode to Chanel were felt in a series of black and white cocktail dresses. The show concluded with a floating mint organza gown and a silver leaf embroidered dress.
May Hsu offered all black ensembles in long silhouettes for a luxurious comfort. We adored the styling and a particular cropped leather kimono. A strong masculine femininity could be felt in relaxed fits intelligently styled with top hats, round shades, and ribbon scarves. We clearly see international potential in Hsu’s extraordinary variety of garments.
Clean lines and clever interpretations of wool separates wowed us at AXOXYXOXS’ showcase. A collection of elegantly comfortable pieces with cute detailing such as peek-a-boo shoulders provided an effortless cool. A standout piece was a particular wool overall look.
Kurt Ho introduced an array of elegantly tailored jackets and trousers with flapping panels in shades of black, white, and grey. The Hong Kong designer exhibited pristinely cut garments for a contemporary sophistication. Think Yohji Yamamoto meets Rick Owens.
Statement outerwear and hoodies made with technical fabrics made an urban explosion at the (A)crypsis show. The layered styling was synonymous to a surrealist pop fantasy, topped with accessories such as a “Cyclops” headpiece. (A)crypsis produced a rugged and ultra-cool collection for the post-modern metropolis.
Kei Kumatani revealed “adventure” garments meant to stimulate curiosity in her autumn hues infused show. The Japanese based designer incorporated spotted prints evocative of nature, while details such as fur lining that pointed to something organically rich. Caramel, navy, and grey separates were fashioned in imaginative ways, such as an asymmetrical apron wrap.
The 13th Edition of Taipei IN Style has confirmed that the Taiwanese fashion industry is one that must be recognised as an up-and-coming market for international buyers. While some designers stayed true to their traditional Asian roots, others have demonstrated immense creativity and potential to expand their horizons on a global scale. We are more than curious to see what the Spring/Summer 2017 season will bring as Taipei warms up for another round.
For more information visit taipeiinstyle.com
Words / Sheri Chiu