Mar 6, 2023
At a time when fashion shows seem to be moving away from the minimalism and neutral tones omnipresent in recent seasons, it is easier to discern between collections that have briefly hopped on the trend and brands that have taken the simplicity of clean lines and soft colour palettes as their trademark. At Paris Fashion Week in particular, two brands of Chinese origin insisted on this creative approach, designed to seduce classic and timeless luxury buyers.
Icicle as seen by Yuni Ahn
The bright, open-plan space on the first floor of Icicle’s flagship store in Paris, located at 35 Avenue George V, served as the backdrop for Icicle’s fall/winter 2023 presentation. Three soft and relaxed looks were carefully placed near the boutique’s display cases, as if they were part of an exhibition in which they shared the limelight with a dozen vertical photographs decorating one of the walls.
On the first floor, the focus was on a contemporary textile sculpture, on which large squares of surplus fabrics that had been left over from making the collection were hung. The collection was then presented in an intimate and tranquil fashion show held on the third and last floor of the luxurious space of the brand owned by the ICCF Group, which also owns the historic French firm Carven.
Designed as an exclusive collaboration with South Korean designer Yuni Ahn, who previously worked for Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Celine and even served as artistic director of Maison Kitsuné, the ‘Natural Way’ capsule explored the Chinese proverb ‘Make the best use of everything’, which means ‘respecting the intrinsic value of each part of a garment. In China, Icicle boasts a retail network of more than 270 shops.
Thus, the limited collection aims to find a different way of understanding clothing, questioning production methods in order to create natural and durable pieces by using Yuni Ahn’s expertise as a modeller and her commitment to “sustainable creation”. Delicate and relaxed silhouettes with curves that embrace the body were seen in long oversized coats with puffed sleeves, padded waistcoats fitted at the waist, long asymmetrical dresses and loose-fitting trousers.
All garments are easily combinable and interchangeable, while deconstructed silhouettes were achieved with overlays that paid homage to traditional Chinese clothing. In terms of materials, knits were warm and generously proportioned, while the cashmere used in the collection was sourced from the Chinese maison’s repurposed fabrics. The photographable boot gaiters were also made from luxury deadstock materials, and the colour palette was kept natural and mineral, without the use of any dyes.
Ruohan’s delicate touch
A graduate of Central Saint Martins and former employee of the prestigious, The Row studio, designer Ruohan Nie is one of China’s rising stars. In what seemed more like an art exhibition in a gallery than a fashion show, the brand launched in March 2021 showcased its “effortless and timeless” vision of the contemporary women’s wardrobe in one of the halls of the Palais de Tokyo.
Simple lines, precise details and careful tailoring characterised the collection featuring neutral tones and luxurious fabrics, such as silk from the Chinese region of Sichuan or the softest and most delicate knitwear. Only a hint of orangey red was used in two suggestively fitted looks, which broke away from the colour palette of ochres, whites and greys.
Knitted overlays creating asymmetrical volumes, soft and cosy jumpers, long coats with high collars or voluptuous silhouettes with structured sleeves explored the concept of the “square”, the result of human-made structures, as opposed to round shapes such as seeds, fruits and stars found in nature. Ruohan’s couture sought out to meet the difficult challenge of creating the “perfect square” as the ultimate expression of precision in fashion.
“I wanted to present easy ready-to-wear garments that can be easily combined to create sophisticated or more relaxed looks, even with jeans,” said Ruohan Nie coyly to FashionNetwork.com in an interview backstage at her elegant show, the brand’s first in the French capital.
“Presenting the collection here is a big step for the internationalisation of the brand in terms of exposure and reaching out to a new audience,” said the designer, who received an award at Shanghai Fashion Week for the spring/summer 2022 season.
The designer has her sights set high when it comes to thinking about the future of her brand.
“I would like to become someone like Jacquemus, who, in addition to having a unique fashion approach, has become the representative of a whole country. I think China has a lot of talent and we have to promote it,” said the founder of the brand, which already has 40 points of sale in her country of origin, as well as 16 stores in Europe, Japan and the United States.
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