Blanc de Chine – New York Fashion Week Fall 2006 Review

During a trip to Guangzhou, China, in the spring of 2004, I decided to escape the pollution and the sea of sullen, weary faces by stepping into a Marriott hotel. All of a sudden, I entered a completely different counterculture, one with diamonds, satin gloves and fur shawls further illuminated by chandeliers. It was a world far away from the streets of the former Chinese economic epicenter and even farther away from the typical Marriott I was accustomed to seeing in the States.

It was this same jarring transition that occurred upon stepping into Blanc de Chine, the New York branch of the Hong Kong-based luxury boutique. A brand new, 2,400-sq. ft., double-floor gem on Fifth Avenue and 53rd St. punctuated by a winding spiral staircase, Blanc de Chine sells haute chinoise clothing combining traditional Chinese costumes with simple, modern cuts. A store similar to the Blanc de Chine concept would be Shanghai Tang, although would not be a fair comparison, as the latter fuses modern art and a playful, colorful palette. Blanc de Chine simply oozes style, a style that has been the choice of such individuals as Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh, who also grace the pages of the store’s catalog. But it’s also a style that comes with a price tag: US$4,500 for a light green sequined cheongsam with a spiraled pattern, anyone?

Enter the Dào Collection, the focus of Blanc de Chine’s exclusive fashion show. The collection is a contemporary take on the DuDou (“du” being Mandarin for “stomach,” “dou” meaning “cover”). According to the press notes, this article of clothing dates back to 221 B.C., and is a single piece of fabric that drapes the chest, is backless, and is secured by a strap around the neck and another around the back.

Given the simplicity of the clothing, coupled with the versatility in terms of how to wear it, the intimate setting could not have been more perfect for Blanc de Chine’s private show. The show featured female models, one male model (the DuDou is the official uniform for Mongolian men’s wrestling competitions), two little girls who completely stole the show (watch the video for highlights) and even a dog. (After all, it is the Year of the Dog, and the idea of a canine donning a DuDou was too enticing for the store to pass up.)

The DuDou featured in the collection – which come in silk, velvet, leather and other materials – demonstrated how a slight change in the wrap shows off subtle aesthetic and angles. The beauty in the pieces lies in how the cloth drapes around the human figure. With this collection, Blanc de Chine has scored a winning line to complement its equally pleasing new space.

Video: Runway Highlights

video by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine