The veteran of such ‘minimalist chic’ bastions as Celine and Maison Kitsuné tries her hand at the art of collaborative clothing, with an exclusive RTW collection inspired by “today’s modern Chinese women”.
Ever the paragon of icy respectability, Chinese fashion house Shanghai Tang has recently gotten a calculated boost of hype with the reveal of its newest collaborator — Yuni Ahn. The Korean designer (who cut her teeth at Celine during the golden age of Phoebe Philo) is best known for helming Parisian lifestyle & clothing brand Maison Kitsuné, where she occupied the position of Creative Director until early 2020. Following a brief convalescence, it appears that Ahn will be pursuing a multi-collection partnership with Shanghai Tang “throughout 2021” — stopping just short of joining the Chinese luxury marque as an in-house designer.
Consistent with the timing of this announcement, Ahn’s maiden effort for Shanghai Tang sees her tackling the Pre-Fall 2021 collection: a familiar arena for exploring bold outerwear, dramatic silhouettes, and colours which evoke the melancholy between seasons. Her first foray into the world of contemporary Chinese-inspired womenswear draws at length from personal experience, recalling the dynamism and “crackling energy” of Hong Kong when Ahn resided in the city during the 1990s. There’s the inevitable hat-tip to the cinematic oeuvre of everybody-and-their-uncle’s favourite auteur, Wong Kar-wai — the campaign’s models are cast in the willful, cooly aloof mould of Faye Wong circa Chungking Express (1994) — though the collection’s essential spirit seems to be bound up in emancipation.
Designs that figure hugely in traditional Chinese attire have been reconsidered and reinterpreted, in service to the kind of woman whose aesthetic preferences hold very little stock in the male gaze. Comfort and a sense of practical contentment are at the centre of this new universe: the signature Shanghai Tang qipao is evolved in clever, increasingly distinctive styles; ranging from conventional knee-length dresses to a formidable cropped layer in which militant regalia co-mingles with softer sensibilities of Eastern design.
Millennials who love a good logo also aren’t liable to come away disappointed, as Ahn pours Shanghai Tang’s signature lattice-work print (inspired by dynastic Chinese architecture) into a plethora of mediums. (Déjà vu notwithstanding, the motif takes exceptionally well to lengthy, uninterrupted surfaces. For instance: the kind you’ll likely to find in one of the collection’s jacquard-woven totes.)
Yuni Ahn for Shanghai Tang Pre-Fall 2021 is now available in boutiques throughout Hong Kong. To learn more, visit Shanghai Tang online.