transcending boundaries | backstage at shanghai fashion week aw24

photography. Meka Goulding

Shanghai Fashion Week (SHFW) transcended its boundaries this autumn/winter season, with fashion and culture fusing seamlessly to create collections full of meaning. From the celestial designs of Tension Archive to WMWM’s take on a school uniform to the exuberance of SHUSHU/TONG’s 50s-inspired glamour, discover what brands had to offer in this behind-the-scenes look at SHFW.

WMWM headed back to school with their ‘Shady Scholar Series’. Argyle sweaters, cardigans that your teacher used to wear (but cooler), and plenty of plaid graced the runway – which featured a wooden installation designed by Zucchini and Sonneku resembling a rounded desk with stools. Wool tights were colour-blocked to mimic socks being worn over them and paired with leather Mary Jane’s while the collars of crisp white button-ups peeked out from knit vests, ensuring the top half of the look was just as schoolgirl cool as the bottom. Midi skirts and oversized knitwear combined with micro mini shorts and puff sleeves married a teacher’s wardrobe with that of their students.

Traditional Chinese garments, including the Cheongsam and Tangzhuang, were reinterpreted in Hu Sheguang Haute Couture’s autumn/winter collection. Every look in the collection was designed with a red structured silk fabric ornamented with a large floral print, whether that be voluminous dresses cinched with belts, wide-leg trousers, tops with ruffled sleeves and v-necklines, or balaclavas… Not to mention the baker boy hats that sat atop models’ heads. Black beaded opera necklaces, gold hardware details, thick leather belts, rounded sunglasses, tall grey snakeskin platform boots, and black gloves added an air of rebellion to the more traditional silhouettes. 

Ethereal is just about the only way to describe Tension Archive’s latest collection, ‘Phantasmagoria’. Knitted furs, flowing frills, and sequin and beaded embellishments found themselves adorning body-hugging floor-length gowns, cascading maxi skirts, and textured halter-neck tops. The autumn/winter collection introduced a new knitting technique – conceived by designer Jin Jing Lin – which has the ability to sculpt the body without using a needle and thread. And, with a muted colour palette of white, cream, and soft pink, this innovative technique put the body on full display, evoking vulnerability and feminism alongside confidence.

Heavily inspired by The Sacred Band of Thebes, an ancient Greek myth in which 150 pairs of male friends formed the Theban army before perishing together, designer Daorui of RayDots merged these elements with those of his own culture. Elements from Chinese military uniforms – think Jundayi, a puffy green overcoat – were contrasted with the soft draping and twisted silhouettes of the Greek toga, bringing femininity into menswear. Button-up waistcoats were reminiscent of bulletproof vests, two-tone trousers were influenced by Thebet armour, quilted and ruched jackets referenced 1930s silhouettes, and a bold red signified the bloodshed in war.

The sophistication and glamour of Vincent Minnelli’s Gigi – a 1958 romantic comedy – served as the starting point for SHUSHU/TONG’s autumn/winter collection. Shanghai-based designers Liushu Lei and Yutong Jiang merged 50s and 60s opulence with modernity, translated through rosette-adorned mini dresses and skirts, sequin embellished outerwear, and fitted jackets with black bows placed at the neckline. Baby blue and pink were juxtaposed against cognac, mustard, charcoal, and black, allowing the layering of cardigans, dresses, and collared shirts to pop. Voluminous satin skirts, feather-garnished knitted tanks and underwear-esque shorts, and floral embroidery only added to the collection’s sumptuous nature.

photography. Meka Goulding

words. Amber Louise
backstage photography. Meka Goulding
photography assistance. Li Linghao (SHUSHU/TONG)

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