“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players,” wrote William Shakespeare, but Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia’s collection negated the idea of the Shiatzy Chen customer being only a bit player. The designer said she’d drawn inspiration from Eastern and Western theater, focusing on the larger than life wardrobe of its actors, on- and off-stage.
Presented in one-to-one appointments, rather than a show, the brand’s labor-intensive craftsmanship shone. In pictures or see at catwalk speeds, the overall impression would have been of a lineup that taps the Western feminine mid-century tropes seen elsewhere this season. In person, a host of details jumped out. The way different types of lace were layered to achieve a 3-D effect on a shoulder. A double collar took cues from a traditional Chinese one and was layered in a trompe-l’oeil combination with a necklace neckline. It wasn’t all perfect: a couple of jacquards — a jumbled pattern of stages, operatic headdresses, fans and flowers — stumbled, particularly as stately gowns.
The more attractive silhouettes were no doubt the ones balancing extensive handiwork and traditional Chinese cuts with contemporary fits and lengths. Among the standouts were a great coat cut from a padded material that looked like pinstripes from a distance; lantern-sleeve minidresses that had a Sixties flair; a textured tuxedo dotted with transparent sequins; frothy blouses and boleros cut from lace and chiffon. They were by far the best examples of Shiatzy Chen’s cultural melting pot.