Traditional Chinese silks, abstract embroidery and 50s workwear shapes – we take a closer look at Xander Zhou SS16.
‘The East has arrived. Salute and embrace it’, was the bombastic statement at the header of Xander Zhou’s press release today – bold as ever, the designer is certainly not afraid to commit to a theme. But this works in his favour, for while so many designers have drawn upon Asian, and specifically Chinese, cultural symbols this men’s week, Zhou provides a space in which we can authentically learn about design and fabrication from The East. Redrawing the lines between staples of British and Asian design – this collection contemplates the binding, as opposed to the addition, of two very visually different worlds. Traditional Chinese silks – in sapphire, ruby and canary – were embroidered with abstract images of intricate florals and smoking nostrilled dragons. They took the form of panels appliquéd to the back of buttery trench coats and jersey sweaters. Long line sleeveless dress-tops, and little backless halters (think nineties Tammy Girl) were made entirely of the same. Details saw a red and black Yin and Yang symbol embroidered onto black boxy jackets, while longs strips of leather, adorned with white-ish Chinese calligraphy, hung like hardware from belt loops.
Mice and Men
A series of 50s workwear shapes provided the foundation for the show – leather and coated linen boxed-out Western jackets were edited with nero collars; high-waisted wide leg trousers in baby pinks, lemon and black polka-dots, and grey and black stripes trigger thoughts of a contemporary John Steinbeck protagonist; while bowling shirts and knitted polos in matching stripes were paired with teeny-tiny trunks – ready for the sweltering Central Line commute come Summer next year. Boiler suits are back with a vengeance also – with Zhou’s interpretation in plasticy whites and quilted blue floral cottons.
Think twice, cut once…
Arrowheads resurfaced in the detail for SS16 – with pointed panels of red and black (p)leather either bonded in place of pockets, or hanging from steel tie-rings by seat-belt material. Square blocks were dotted about the shirts, and shining black rectangles punctuated the line of the trouser, sitting over the fly at the crotch – adding interest to a usually untouched area of the trouser. Xander Zhou is evidently thoughtful on both the micro and macroscale when it comes to design. From beautifully cut, printed, sewn, and finished garments, to concepts which run much deeper than this – it is with great pleasure we watch Zhou both celebrate, deconstruct and merge Chinese and Western design in equal measure.
Words: Tom Rasmussen
Photography: Thursdan Redding