Chinatown’s First International Fashion Week

By Meileena Bautista
Photos by Rey DelFierro
All rights reserved
Used with permission

October 15, 2015 marked the beginning of the first-ever Chinatown International Fashion Week (CIFW). It made a powerful impression on the San Francisco Bay Area Fashion Industry with its exciting pomp and pageantry. Renowned fashion designer Monique Zhang, founder of CIFW, described the celebration and program, as “a modern fashion fad and concept inspired from the enduring fashion history of Chinoiserie.” Chinoiserie (French for things in Chinese style) is the imitation or incorporation of Chinese styles, techniques, and motifs in Western art and culture.

CIFW’s Grand Finale took place at Ruby Hill Golf Club in Pleasanton, California on November 5th. Guests enjoyed champagne, an elite wine tasting by Drunken Dragon, and appetizers by Uncle Yu’s at the Vineyard. The show featured a stellar opening number: an opera performance by Nick Liang who is also the President and Wine Director of Uncle Yu’s at the Vineyard.

The Finale celebrated top Chinese fashion designer, Sheguang Hu, who offered his Fall/Winter 2016 collection, “Off the White, Mongolian Night of the Lore.” The collection was originally presented the week before at Mercedes-Benz’ China Fashion Week in Beijing. Of Mongolian descent, Sheguang Hu graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam; the Dutch academy for fine arts and design. He made a name for himself designing couture dresses for Dutch royalty and creating several avant-garde haute couture collections.

Hu masterfully incorporated Chinese elements into his fine European couture creations. With his newest collection, the powerful statuesque models were clothed in large gowns featuring deep jewel-tone velvets. He incorporated elements of tulle, which appeared as majestic ruffled collars, cascading tiered skirts, and beautifully ballooned sleeves. Powerful and strong, the models looked as if they just returned from battle. The beautiful headdresses were champagne-colored helmets reflecting quintessential military style accented with stunning white feather plumes. The statuesque models, in sky-high heelless boots, gracefully carried themselves down the runway accompanied by rousing fighting songs. Heelless boots, also known as gravity-defying heels, are high platforms without heels that may reach ten or even up to eighteen inches in height with the weight all on the toes instead of the heels. This avant-garde style has been embraced by Hollywood celebrities and was made famous by Lady Gaga who is reputed to own more than fifteen pairs. Hu’s models were also clad in leather armor detailed with intricate embroidery and engravings. Each set of leather armor was unique to the model, taking various shapes such as off the shoulder, a full collar surrounding the neck and face, a full bodice with a sweetheart neckline, and even a corset. The powerfully inspiring displays of Sheguang Hu’s fantastical designs left the audience rapt with awe and appreciation.

Following the show, Monique Zhang, Sheguang Hu, and the fabulous backstage production team led by Ava Byrd of Byrdsong Productions thanked everyone for their support and for being part of the first Chinatown International Fashion Week.