Huishan Zhang’s fall collection was a reimagining of “Sabrina,” the 1954 film starring Audrey Hepburn as a chauffeur’s daughter who falls hopelessly in love with one of the Larrabee sons of the wealthy employer her father works for, flees to Paris to nurse her heart and learn how to crack eggs with one hand, then comes back — a là Parisienne — and knocks everyone socks off, courtesy of some Hubert de Givenchy frocks and a new hairdo.
The ballroom scene in which Sabrina pulls off her big reveal wearing a white Givenchy gown was Zhang’s big inspiration for the collection. “We chose the ballroom at the Kimpton Fitzroy London because the love story in ‘Sabrina’ starts from that scene,” he told WWD ahead of the show.
Cue a collection full of romance and fantasy, frothing with couture flourishes like feathers, tulle ruffles and stiff crinoline skirts, but designed with a modern girl in mind.
He imagined adding color to the black-and-white film, resulting in a refined palette, with washes of pale apricot, soft aqua and mint green breaking up the black, white and royal blue, in shapes that nodded to the dramatic silhouettes Givenchy was known for while resolutely putting his own spin on things.
He used a lustrous taffeta-effect nylon in sweet outfits like the mint dress with gathered A-line skirt, or the cropped swing jacket with tulip sleeves and black full skirt. It was also used for the collection’s many boleros, which were worn almost exclusively at the neck, like a giant pussy bow, or around the waist like an avant-garde obi belt, evincing Zhang’s fresh take on formalwear — all of the flutter but none of the frump.
His couturier’s skill was evident in a gorgeous blush pink synthetic leather bomber festooned with ostrich feathers in a chevron pattern, which was worn with a floor-length skirt in palest apricot covered in shimmering sequins in pink and aqua in a floral derived from Sabrina’s ballroom dress.
His Chinese heritage came to the fore in gathered ribbons punctuated with big pearl bead embellishments, which, he said, are intended to echo the boatlike shape of old Chinese ingots used as currency, and in the super pretty cheongsam dress in the floral sequins
Pearls, another Hepburnism, were used as chunky anklets over opaque pastel stockings, and in hand-embroidered pearl flowers on pieces like the black tweed coat with feather trimmings. And a long-haired artificial fur was fun in a hybrid coat with a cape overlay, cut to give an interesting fluted effect to the shape.