New Exhibition Examines Fresh Ways of Seeing Chinese Fashion

LONDON — Tying to the 20th anniversary of Shanghai Fashion Week, an exhibition titled “Chinese Fashion Designers: Ways of Seeing” will run from Wednesday to May 9 in the newly renovated Xintiandi Style shopping mall.

Pooky Lee, curator of the exhibition and founder of Exhibiting Fashion, said that — in addition to highlighting Shanghai Fashion Week and its lead sponsor Xintiandi’s continuous support of local fashion creatives — the show, inspired by art critic John Berger’s book “Ways of Seeing,” seeks to explore new ways of viewing and understanding contemporary Chinese fashion through the work of 20 Chinese designers.

“What Berger described in the book is the significance of looking (and looking again), which is very much interesting and inspiring from an exhibition-making perspective. By building up the gigantic installations and inserting the looking devices (mirrors, magnifiers, etc), we sort of guide the audiences‘ sight to look at different aspects of the Chinese fashion designer group,” Lee said.

The exhibition consists of four parts that span over 2,690 square feet across the mall. The first part is located at the atrium of Xintiandi Fashion’s main entrance on Madang Road. With a setup that resembles a mini-museum, visitors can browse through the work of 10 fashion designers — including Xu Zhi, Qiuhao, Lwenx Workshop, Pronounce, Villa Xrwa, Caroline Hu, Chen Peng, Shie Lyu, Samuel Guì Yang, and Uma Wang — from a collector’s perspective.

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Illustrations of Yueqi Qi, Yuhan Wang, Shie Lyu, Xu Zhi, Shushu/Tong, and Pronounce’s designs as a part of the exhibition “Chinese Fashion Designers: Ways of Seeing” during the fall 2021 edition of Shanghai Fashion Week. Courtesy/Janus Leong

In the second part, which is at the north entrance on Zizhong Road, Chinese culture-inspired creations from Angel Chen, Yueqi Qi, Ximon Lee, and Yuhan Wang are put inside a revolving lantern. At the Fuxing Road entrance, the third installation of the exhibition showcases pieces by 8on8, Mayali, Ming Ma, Yirantian, Shushu/Tong, and Oude Waag. Their work explores the relationship between clothing and the body.

Finally, in the lower-ground atrium, a labyrinth-like space is set up to let the audience see how this group of fashion designers uses a wide range of mediums, such as photographs, illustrations, and motion videos to express their creative visions.

Through his years of research on Chinese fashion, Lee realized Chinese fashion has always been there. That’s why, with this exhibition, he is trying to encourage people to take a look at homegrown fashion from a new perspective that’s not dictated by the traditional fashion hierarchy.

Fashion illustrator Janus Leong has also created 20 posters based on each designer’s work, which centers around the idea of “how to look and what to look at: whether it’s the dress, the installation that holds it, or an illustrator’s own reflection of the object,” according to Lee.

During the exhibition period, the curatorial team will hold regular guided tours, designer talks, and other public events related to the theme of the exhibition.

Poster of the exhibition “Chinese Fashion Designers: Ways of Seeing” during the fall 2021 edition of Shanghai Fashion Week. Courtesy

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