I wish I could have attended the following:
Blanc de Chine to Flaunt Latest at S.F. Symphony
Gerrye Wong, Feb 23, 2007
San Franciscans will have the chance to preview the spring collection from Hong Kong design house Blanc de Chine, when its fashions hit the runway at the Imperial Dinner following the San Francisco Symphony’s Chinese New Year Concert on Feb. 24.
Initially known to Hong Kong’s fashionistas through its tony Landmark Centre boutique, Blanc de Chine arrived at New York’s Fifth Avenue a few years ago. Since then, the design house has become a buzzword among the fashion-minded, and its Asian American fans are eager to see its latest offerings. Be on the lookout for society matrons and escorts showing off Blanc de Chine creations at the Symphony’s Chinese New Year celebration, chaired by one of the line’s favored patrons, Jessa Wu.
This may be the first you have heard of the fashion house, since Blanc de Chine’s mystique stems from its owner Kin Yeung’s desire to stay out of the limelight. However, as much as he likes anonymity for himself, Jackie Chan showed off the label of his jacket on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. Soon after, director Ang Lee wore a Blanc de Chine mien lap when he won the Golden Globe for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Later, his stars Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang appeared in glamorous Blanc de Chine cheongsams (traditional Chinese long dresses) at the Cannes Film Festival. Other celebrities seen wearing Blanc de Chine designs include Jay Leno, Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods, Steven Seagal, Juliette Binoche and Andy Lau.
Yeung became interested in fashion in 1990 when, returning to Hong Kong from the U.S., he wanted to buy a mien lap for himself but found only ill-made versions in souvenir gift shops. It took him three years to create his perfect Chinese jacket, and by then he had not only reinvented it, but also designed sumptuously embroidered cheongsams, tunic-and-pants outfits and hooded car coats, all made from the finest Chinese silk at his Peddler Building store in Hong Kong Central. He embarked into retail fashion, far from his former career of real estate development.
"My mien lap is so versatile and so comfortable, it can take one to many places and still feel at ease," he said, adding that it is the heart of his fast-growing company. He aims to create apparel that not only reflects the outward aesthetic of Chinese designs but also alludes to the spiritual aspect of his Chinese culture. "I love simplicity and the zen philosophy of Buddhism," he said.
Yeung has seven criteria that guide his designs: they must embody simplicity, serenity, functionality, comfort, sensuality, subtlety, harmony and purity. Yeung’s clothes are often of muted shades of silk. Seemingly simple, they remind one of a zen-like combination of Chinese and colonial styles. Only here in Hong Kong and in Blanc de Chine’s three-story, glass-fronted Fifth Avenue shop will you find the line’s unique translations of the Qipao, Mian-Ao and chang pao, also known as the scholar’s robe.
No matter what form, Yeung demands impeccable workmanship. The youthful-looking owner believes a garment must be as beautiful inside as outside, with stitching, lining and closures, important details that are felt but not seen. Every season, the company unveils a ready-to-wear line of over 100 styles. The most popular cheongsam is black crepe and cap-sleeved, in the body-slimming 1930s-Shanghai style.
Yeung’s love of fabrics is evident. Small but practical innovations infuse the line — a shawl folds into a compact bag that can be used as a travel pillow. Another shawl snaps up one arm to become a sleeve. Many pieces are travel-friendly with washable, wrinkle-resistant and lightweight fabrics that are surprisingly soft. Each piece is luxuriously detailed, from hand-stitched quilting or embroidery to pure silk linings.
"I don’t call my clothes high fashion," Yeung said modestly. "I am just happy with the idea that our design that is steeped in my culture. My collection features historically authentic Chinese garments that fuse together the past, present and future, carrying with it a subtle yet enduring sensuality. It will be as fashionable 20 years from now as it is today."
Blanc de Chine (white of China): a French term for a type of fine white porcelain from China that was highly prized in the West during the 18th century for its exquisite quality. The name reflects Blanc de Chine’s aspiration to global excellence — to be synonymous with style and superb quality.
I don't really care for the modern cheung saam; it flatters only one specific body type, not like the traditional clothing, which could be worn by women of all body types since it concealed the figure, not put it on display.