Words by Tanya Grimson
January 31st, 2019
Bicester Village, the flagship of Kildare Village located in Oxfordshire, UK, launched its first ever Chinese pop-up shop this week curated by fashion writer and style innovator, Susie Bubble. The boutique is part of a line-up of special events to celebrate Chinese New Year, featuring a handpicked selection of cutting edge collections from award-winning to emerging new gen Chinese designers. The designers featured in the collection include Huishan Zhang – a former winner of the BFC Fashion Trust Award and LVMH award finalist –, Ryan Lo, Anaïs Jourden, Mukzin, I Am Chen, Marie Yat, Xu Zhi, Matter Matter, Yang Li, and Snow Xue Gao. The pop-up opened on 29th January and will run until 17th February.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening of the boutique earlier this week to get acquainted with the new designers but also to speak with curator Susie Buble to find out how and why this exhibition came about. “I think young designers are having a moment, whether Chinese or not, but in terms of new collections being showcased in London, people are really enthusiastic about the new talent pool coming through such as Ryan Lo, who has a huge amount of support in London, as does Marieyat — her lingerie campaign went viral online. Chinese designers, especially those who have matriculated overseas, who have been to Central Saint Martins or graduated from Parsons, they have the experience and confidence to draw from their own culture, before that it was more about being assimilated into the western fashion culture, but the axis of fashion has shifted and Chinese consumers are akin. It was bound to happen that the axis of fashion will deviate from the bounds of London, Paris and New York and I think that is happening sooner rather than later,” Susie explains.
Susie Lau, also known as Susie Bubble, hails from Hong Kong and has long been a supporter of Chinese fashion but was quick to note that these designers were not chosen purely because they are from China but because they have international appeal and have tried to avoid any stereotypical Chinese references. “In terms of the designers I have chosen, I truly believe they have a voice that stands up, I’m interested in fashion from beyond borders.”
The process itself was relatively simple as once the idea of hosting this event had been discussed collaboratively with Bicester Village, the designers featured were her immediate front-runners, as Susie describes, “Because I have been going to Shanghai Fashion Week a lot lately and a lot of the designers also do shows in London and Paris and New York, they are all people I either know personally or have been tracking their careers.” Others she met through chance and through the wonderful opportunities and the opening of doors social media can create; during her opening speech, she talked of getting acquainted with design label Muzkin through DMs on Instagram and how she instantly fell in love with its quirky aesthetic.
Celebrating China will be open to all until 17th February 2019. For more information visit bicestervillageshoppingcollection.com.
Kildare Village, the sister village of Bicester, will also be hosting a series of events to celebrate Chinese New Year. As official sponsors of the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival, Kildare Village will host their own event on Friday 8th February alongside the Chinese ambassador to celebrate the beginning of a weekend full of Chinese New Year festivities. The activities will take place from Saturday 9th to Sunday 10th February from 11 am to 5 pm. During the weekend, guests can avail of a number of specifically created events such as Sugar Painting by artist Liu Binbin from Shanghai. Mr Binbin uses hot liquid sugar to create figures and edible paintings that guests can keep or choose to eat if they wish.
Lantern making classes held by Dublin-based Chinese artist Angela Wang will also be available, as will Chinese Calligraphy so families can learn how to write their name in Chinese characters. On Saturday, February 9th, guests will be given the opportunity to become a dongwu 动物 (animal) at the Zodiac Animal Costume Workshop. Led by Dublin-based artist Heather Gray, children can create their very own costume while learning about their Zodiac animal. On Sunday, February 10th, face painting artists from Dublin Body Paint will be on hand to transform children into their own Chinese Zodiac animal.
For more information, see kildarevillage.com.
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