By  on April 28, 2008

BEIJING — Bright lights illuminated imperial Beijing's looming red walls Thursday night as Yohji Yamamoto showed off his fall collection for Y's and launched the Yohji Yamamoto Fund for Peace intended to promote better Sino-Japanese relations through the universal language of fashion.

"China's population is beyond my imagination: rich, brilliant, pure, so many," Yamamoto told WWD at the show's after party at Tian Di Yi Jia.

"I love young designers, and the film director Wang Kar-wai, and young contemporary artists," he said, singling out for praise the young "antifashion" designer Ma Ke.

The catwalk show and opening party were staged at the Workers Cultural Palace, an eastern addendum to the Forbidden City that formerly was the Taimiao hall of the Ancestral Temple. Built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, it traditionally has provided the setting for imperial and state funerals, and today is a public park and activity center for retirees. Starting in 1998 with Zhang Yimou's $15 million production of "Turandot," the government has provided it as a backdrop, allowing high-profile events to claim the prestige of the Forbidden City without attracting popular ire by opening the actual palace to commercial and foreign events.

Prior to Yamamoto's show, the Workers Cultural Palace has hosted Yanni and Three Tenors concerts, "America's Next Top Model," a Salvatore Ferragamo fashion show and party and Feng Xiaogang's satirical 2002 film "Big Shot's Funeral," starring Donald Sutherland.

The 58 designs Yamamoto showcased Thursday were auctioned Saturday at the Beijing Hotel by Sotheby's to raise funds for the Yohji Yamamoto Fund. The line will sell in China through the Joyce and I.T boutiques, although Yohji Yamamoto Inc. is looking to open freestanding Mainland shops in the next few years.

Cooperating with the Chinese government's Chinese People's Association for Friendship With Foreign Countries, the fund aims to foster creativity among young Chinese fashion designers. Starting in 2009, it will annually select and sponsor one Chinese design student for two years of continuing education in Europe or Japan and one female Chinese model to make her debut at Paris Fashion Week.

"This is my personal foundation, and then the Chinese government foundation. It's nice. We got married," joked Yamamoto. "And then we're planning to choose a student who is dreaming about fashion design, and a fashion model. We're going to help them."

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