Beijing-born Sean Suen — who studied graphic design and fine arts before veering off into fashion — presented a cinematic collection that tapped into the doomed fate of one of its most famous inhabitants, China’s last emperor Puyi. During a preview, the designer mentioned that he had recently seen the 1987 Bertolucci film and that the generational perception of the man seemed to evolve from a semi-villainous focal point, to a remote historical figure.
In keeping with the Chinese designer’s previous efforts, the lineup focused on tailored shapes, silhouettes retained a monastic “East-meets-West” sensibility by borrowing indiscriminately from martial outfits, classic tailoring and workwear.
Suen’s painterly sensibilities come to express themselves through his sartorial work, and lend themselves to this kind of implicit storytelling. But even without knowing the igniting thought, the slow descent from the imperial throne to a form of layman anonymity was clear, say, in the gradual softening of the shoulders — from the stricture of a shoulder cape to the roundness of the natural articulation — as it was in textures. Suen went from the richness of a wool embossed with an astrakhan pattern on a voluminous fur-collared blouson, to the bareness of a black suit. One mottled wool, seen on a pair of coats, evoked demolition rubble. If looking for a deeper meaning, the outsized proportions of a coat telegraphed the idea of a crushing destiny. Or, for realists, that of a designer well aware of the zeitgeist.