SAN FRANCISCO — A PBS documentary to air next year follows two San Francisco designers in China's southwest Guizhou Province as they learn ancient garment making from their tribal counterparts.
For Colleen Quen and Jude Gabbard, who were picked from among 100 applicants, the two-week trip began in November in the villages of Miao and Buyi. There, as they have done for centuries, ethnic minorities wear native garb that is rich in embroidery, silver adornments, beading, elaborate hats and wax-dye batiks. These elements, among others, inspired the designers to create a handful of outfits upon their return, which were displayed this month in a downtown San Francisco art gallery.
"This is modern Miao," said Quen, standing next to a two-piece translucent green silk gown, the color of rice terraces. The neckline, as it rises up and away from the shoulders in the back, was inspired by colorful baby carriers made of densely embroidered fabric panels. The jacket has a bubble shape at the hips, a detail symbolizing silver spiral chokers worn several at a time, a theme Quen repeated with a poof at the end of the slim skirt. Descending the front is a vertical row of delicate native silver button and fringe adornments.
Known for the sculptural quality of her gowns and sportswear, Quen also celebrated the province's Huang Guo Shu waterfalls — and the Miao knack for mushroom pleating — in a white silk chiffon halter gown with train. In a navy blue silk halter butterfly dress, Quen symbolizes indigo used by the Buyi to make batik, a month-long process that includes daily washing in a river.
"I related to the Miao and Buyi people," said Quen, a fourth-generation Chinese-American, who plans to keep tapping into inspiration from her experience, which was captured by Oakland, Calif.-based D3 Productions Inc. and executive producer Duffy Wang.
Gabbard found kinship between the colorful ancient Chinese designs and their indigenous counterparts in Mexico, where his family has roots in the state of Guanajuato. In interpreting the Chinese fashion, Gabbard thought: "What if one of these villagers were thrust into making high fashion, what would they do?"
This musing led Gabbard to make a landscape-inspired short green cocktail skirt of soft English silk, commonly used in men's neckties. Silk and silvery fabric flowers adorn the front like the native silver jewelry and pleats create a slight flounce. "Gathering is really a big element there," said Gabbard, who has a made-to-order sportswear line. On top, he made a cropped black Italian cashmere jacket with one-piece sleeves influenced by Chinese calligraphy.Gabbard also channeled Buyi batik in a sleeveless evening gown with a hint of a Miao baby carrier in the back. To soften the cotton fabric's durable look, he covered the dress' sturdy cream-and-blue print with a delicate black tulle that gathers at the back in a train decorated with crystals, symbolic of the native jewelry.
Such details counter the way China is often inaccurately represented "in one monolithic way," Gabbard said.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)