Vivienne Tam’s Fall 2011 Ready-To-Wear collection was culturally-driven; She designed the clothing of this show based on the costumes used for the performances of the Kun Opera in ancient china. The architectural components of the Guangzhou Opera House also influenced her looks: The opera-cape shoulders seen on many of the jackets were meant to resemble pagodas. The bright colors of the ancient opera costumes, the use of traditional motifs (dragons, the wind, fire, and clouds), and the use of traditional patterns fueled the creations Tam sent down the runway.
The dragon and cloud appliqués used in the line were especially intriguing. Upon first glance, I thought these ambiguous embroidered designs were inkblots from the famous Rorschach tests; they definitely produced (positive) emotional reactions when I saw them on the clothing! The use of these designs was particularly striking when used with black embroidery on flesh-colored fabric, as was done with her black dragon embroidery tank dress and with her cream dragon crochet tunic. Often, the most detailed designs on the clothing were on the back of the pieces – for once I was happy to be in the standing section, as it allowed me to see all of Tam’s textures and handiwork in full detail. Other recurring items in the show, like the pagoda vests and jackets made in heavy wool, were quite beautiful. The elevated shoulders and the subtle, winged ruffles in the front of these jackets gave a new spin to the otherwise boring world of outerwear.
Tam’s design sensibilities were not as sharp in the creation of some of her printed garb. The looks that were most unimpressive were those that included too many colors, motifs, and textures all at once. The resulting garments using all of these elements within one piece came across as garbled and cheap-looking, as with her emperor robe print water sleeve gown, which was adorned with a busy print, a cloud appliqué, fringe, and had thigh-high splits on both sides. Thus, the most successful pieces in the show were those focusing on one cultural motif at a time.
Layout by: Feesh
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