Atop the Long Museum in Shanghai, Chloé resort 2020 dove deep into China’s cinematic treasures, in a first that brought the French label outside its home country to launch a collection.
In the lead-up to Thursday night’s runway show, creative director Natacha Ramsay-Levi found herself digging through the film works of Chinese director greats: Jia Zhangke, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Zhang Yimou, Lou Ye, and Bi Gan, as well as their leading ladies Gong Li, Shu Qi, and Zhao Tao.
“The way I’ve known Chinese culture is through cinema,” the designer said backstage. “The first show I did at Chloé the soundtrack was [from] ‘Millennium Mambo,’ a movie by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, and Shu Qi was playing in it. For me, it’s a cult movie.”
Speaking of Shu Qi, the actress-muse was present, joining an ensemble of the Chloé girl squad. From China, actresses Tang Yan, Zhang Xueying and Wang Luodan, and stylist Lucia Liu, and from a wider global swathe: Minori Nakada, Mild Lapassalan, Charlotte Groeneveld and Charlotte Adigéry, who would later perform. “I feel like a goddess in this dress, a black Greek goddess,” said the singer from Martinique and Guadeloupe.
The show itself took on a movie-like quality. The audience first saw the models on-screen only as they started from a floor below, before they popped up in the flesh and into view on the rooftop runway.
Ramsay-Levi played with old China codes — quilted jackets with flowers, jacquard prints and even pajama styles. After seeing how it paired so well with the architecture around the city, she added Art Deco flourishes to the clothes, which had been pulled from the house’s archives.
For the brand’s devotees, there was plenty to pick from — long-trailing neck scarfs, earthy colors and tailored pants in multiple material variations ranging from georgette silk to denim.
“I feel very blessed they can really get into the character, the style,” Ramsay-Levi observed of the China crowd who attended the show. “They make it personal in a very, very strong way.…There is a way Chinese people do things in fashion that is so edgy for me.”
Chloé chief executive officer Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye had been thinking along similar lines. “They are first to catch the wave and the trend. That’s why it was important to start in China to do the first show outside France [for Chloé] in China,” he said of the Chinese consumer.
As for what lies ahead in China for the brand, de la Bourdonnaye was upbeat. “We have opened quite a few boutiques in China,” he said. “We have 18 Chloé boutiques in China and online we are present at Net-a-porter and now they are in a joint venture with Alibaba. So it’s going to be a major avenue of growth for us here.”