Earth, fire, water, wood. These are the four Chinese elements. For her Fall/Winter 2014 collection, Vivienne Tam chose again to mine her homeland – this time, creating alchemy with the shades of the first.
Rather than a slow boat to China, we were treated to an equally scenic meandering down the Silk Road, to its heart: DunHuang, the “gateway to the West”. This “City of Sands” was not only a major stop of commerce, it is also the home of a world heritage cultural site – the DunHuang caves. Spanning over 1000 years and built as places to worship Buddha, the first of these was carved out as early as 366 CE, and they housed hidden masterpieces. Not the least of these priceless works of art were the murals painted on the cave walls themselves.
Tam freshens these frescoes by translating their earthen hues and patterns into digitally printed fabric, sweaters, handbags, sweet color blocked shoes, and most originally, tights! Terra firma tones of sepia, amethyst, carnelian, lapis lazuli, oxidized and jade green interplay like the elements. And sometimes, one deep color is concentrated like an uncovered gem or a “Blazing Beacon” (DunHuang’s other name). And sometimes, nuggets of warm metallics flash across the dunes of bonded two-tone fabrics, lavish brocades, boiled wool and bouclé. But always, there are touches of romance – like near-transparent lace, embroidery and other embellishments - and an unexpected, delightful dip into the 70s. (Cave cool culottes, anyone?)
This nostalgic nod was reinforced by low maintenance, 70s hair by Matthew Curtis for TRESsemme.com, Maud Laceppe for MACcosmetics.com makeup, INCOCO nails, slick styling by Katie Mossman and mood music by Laurent Vacher.
But, Vivienne Tam’s F/W runway show was firmly grounded in the present. Partnering with the interactive app WeChat , Tam took it up a notch from the now ubiquitous love streaming.
Guests who downloaded the free WeChat app and added VTAMFASHION as a contact, were given exclusive updates and photos, could participate in a real-time group chat during the show, and accessorize four customizable wallpapers designed by Vivienne.
“We are excited to partner with the iconic Vivienne Tam brand to provide a new interactive experience for the New York Fashion Week audience,” says Jameson Hsu, GM of WeChat USA. “By adding Vivienne Tam’s official account on WeChat, users can step into her world of fashion and receive exclusive photos, video and audio messages directly on their smart phones.”
For Tam’s part, she was thrilled to “bring the fashion week experience from a designer’s lens to a wider audience – from the touch of my fingertip to yours!”
Everything is done right, and nothing is “DunHuang” (sorry!) in this artful treasure of a collection.