The first ever fashion show I attended was Helen Lee’s AW11 collection at Shanghai Fashion Week. It was an elegant and strong collection of black and white, the only concession to colour were the occasional pair of rebel red shoes or a daring red streak across a garment. Later, I was honoured to attend her flagship store opening in Shanghai. The event was chaos for me as a waiter poured an entire glass of red wine down my new white top, forcing me to dose the top in sparkling wine to get the stain out and I was time bound by the last train leaving “Shangers” for Nanjing where I was studying and living at the time. Otherwise, it was a very happy event bringing together Helen’s friends, family and greatest supporters.
Every single one of her collections is what I would call serious fun. Classics from LBDs to Mickey Mouse patterns have been made fun as well as proper fashion you can wear at any casual or formal occasion. So good is her work that many Chinese do not realise she is home grown talent. Lee tells the story of a local in her shop who went with an armful of goods to pay but left them there when she discovered Lee was Chinese. Lee is one of a number of fashion champions proving the ‘made in china’ label is not always a mark of inferior quality, some of the West’s most frequent red carpet walkers are fans of hers.
I recently received an invitation to Lee’s latest project at Lafayette Art & Design Centre with the Yi Minority Cultural + Contemporary Art & Design Exhibition. Sadly I can not make this but for any of you who can I urge you to go.