MELANIE HART’S CHINA: Callula Lillibelle’s Melanie Fraser Hart touched down in China earlier this month to host a fashion show for 2,000 at the July 12 Lan Kwai Fong Chengdu Summer Love event. In addition to the fashion show, the government-sponsored gathering featured DJs, singers, dancers and an assortment of activities to try to rev up interest in the area, which has seen a decline in apparel manufacturing. Hart’s designs included Fifties-inspired swimwear, Fifties-inspired cocktail dresses and other new styles. Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province and is known as the “gateway to the west” of China.
Hart said she refined the collection to better suit the body frames of potential Chinese customers, and she drew from some of her more conservative styles. The designer, who is also ceo, said that American-made Callula Lillibelle is sold through Saks Fifth Avenue and Net-a-porter, as well as its own site. Although she is proud of the fact that all of her manufacturing is done in the U.S., Hart said that setup would have to be reconsidered if she received an order for more than 5,000 units of one dress.
During her stay, she spoke with students and shoppers. “They wanted to know what they should wear and what they should be looking at, so I turned it to them and said, ‘What makes you feel good? What makes you happy?’ which is what I think everyone should do.”
This month’s invitation stemmed partially from her well-received participation in last year’s Chengdu Fashion Week when she and Maggie Norris were the only two American designers included. Hart will return to Chengdu Fashion Week for this year’s installment next month. She is also developing a collection that will carry the Melanie label and will be sold in China.