'China edition' blends past with present

Updated: 2014-05-12 07:12

By Sun Yuanqing (China Daily USA)

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Balenciaga's creative director Alexander Wang plans to debut a collection exclusive to the Chinese market. Sun Yuanqing reports.

More than one year after Alexander Wang took the reins at Balenciaga as creative director, the designer is tailoring a special event for his Chinese customers, along with exclusive designs.

Bridging the label's past and present, the Balenciaga China Edition event in Beijing on Thursday will present a new version of the spring/summer 2014 fashion show, along with an exhibition of some iconic pieces from the house archive hand-picked by Wang.

"I wanted to share the history and tremendous energy at Balenciaga with the modern audience in China," Wang says in an interview with China Daily via e-mail. "My hope is that the 'China Edition' project will be a significant event combining the past, present and future."

The evening will start by revisiting the past with an exhibition of about 40 pieces of garments and jewelry, including four iconic dresses: the minimal "Wedding Dress" of 1967 in ivory silk gazar, "L'Infante" in ivory satin silk and black velvet, the sculptured cape "Choux" from 1968 in black gazar and the "Baby Doll" dress from 1958.

'China edition' blends past with present

The event will be set in a church, in a nod to the faith of Cristobal Balenciaga, the Spanish founder of the label who was inspired by the religious culture of his homeland.

The idea behind the exhibition, Wang says, is to show how Cristobal Balenciaga's designs are as radical today as when they were first presented in the salons.

"There is a timeless modernity in each Cristobal Balenciaga piece that's inspiring to see in person, with the details up close," Wang says.

"Growing up, I had seen Balenciaga in photographs and books. But when I first visited the Cristobal Balenciaga archives in Paris and had the opportunity to see the original creations, I was even more inspired. It's this feeling of discovery and excitement that I hope to share with a larger audience in Beijing."

Following the exhibition will be a reinvention of the spring/summer 2014 collection, which debuted in Paris in September. The collection will feature some innovative fabrics combining traditional know-how and modern technologies, such as multicolored embroidery made from imprinted and laser-cut strips.

"I think the artistry and innovation of Balenciaga will speak to the contemporary times and tastes in China," Wang says.

A total of 13 new forms have been created exclusively for the Beijing show and will only be available to the Chinese market. They include short tops, mini suits, skirts, robes and cocktail attire.

Wang was raised as a Chinese-American. His family is from Shanghai and he has lived in both Shanghai and San Francisco.

He went to the Parsons School of Design in New York and introduced the first full collection of his own eponymous label in 2007. In late 2012, Wang succeeded Nicolas Ghesquiere as the creative director of Balenciaga at the age of 29 while maintaining his own brand.

In 2012, Wang opened the second global flagship store of his own brand in Beijing after New York. Balenciaga has 15 stores on the Chinese mainland. Wang shifts his time between New York and Paris.

"At Alexander Wang, a lot of the energy is raw New York, the energy of how people dress on the street, the music. It's more irreverent and focused on the everyday," Wang says.

"Balenciaga has an artistic, innovative legacy that is linked to the Paris and European fashion tradition. The scale is grander. Its history is complex and multilayered. So the identities are quite separate - but what I try to bring to both are my personal experiences and my own energy and ideas, so that both brands can evolve in their own ways, in their own traditions."

Contact the writer at sun yuanqing@chinadaily.com.cn.


The Balenciaga China Edition exhibition will be open to the public for free for two days.

12 am-6 pm, May 16; 9 am-6 pm, May 17. Chinese Academy of Oil Painting, 1704 Wenhua Yishu Xin Jie (Street), Gaobeidian, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8773-9533.

 'China edition' blends past with present

A Chinese version of Balenciaga's spring/summer 2014 collection will be shown on Beijing's runway. Photos provided to China Daily

 'China edition' blends past with present

The Hiver Peacock Dress of 1958 is one of the iconic pieces from the house archive of Balenciaga.

 'China edition' blends past with present

The Wedding Dress of 1967 is among the 40 exhibits on display in Balenciaga's show in Beijing.

(China Daily USA 05/12/2014 page9)