Sun, Jan 09, 2000 - Page 18 News List

Taiwan fashion grows up

As Elle Taiwan celebrates its 100th issue, an exhibition of covers looks back at the evolution of the local fashion scene

By Florence Crohare  /  Special Contributor

The most established French fashion magazine, Elle, has released the 100th issue of its Taiwanese edition. To celebrate the milestone, the 100 covers published since 1991 will be on display at Eslite Bookstore on Tunhua Road beginning tomorrow through the end of the month.

A book of the best photographs from Elle editions worldwide will also be available in a limited edition of 2000 copies.

The cover exhibition is not meant to be eye candy only. Inasmuch as the magazine itself has evolved along with Taiwanese women over the past nine years, the exhibition is also meant to reflect this evolution.

?ooking at the covers, it is obvious that during the first few years the magazine was creating fashion,?says Lena Yang, chief editor at Elle Taiwan. ?ictures were more elaborate, models more sophisticated, make up heavier. Today, fashion is part of everyday life and covers reflect that. Women look more natural. Models are not necessarily perfect but reveal their personality.?P>

Elle was the second international fashion magazine ?after Harper's Bazaar ?to set up shop in Taiwan. At that time, Taiwanese women were still somewhat unsophisticated in the ways of fashion. Elle showed the way and many women chose to follow.

?ack then, women were a bit lost,?Yang says. ?hey only knew big brand names and would stick to these. Today, brand culture is established and women have their own opinion. They ask information about style and how to mix and match.?P>

Taiwanese women's new concern ?in fashion matters ?is the growing local business. ?hey want to know which way young designers have chosen, how they manage to express their own identities, and if local fashion can, one day, break through to the international scene.?

The cover exhibition also documents to some extent the evolution of the local fashion scene over the past decade. There are two generations of Taiwanese designers. Isabel Wen, Shiatzy, and Lu Fong Chi have been established for two decades. Wen and Shiatzy both have stores on Ta-an Road. Chi's collections are available from Sunrise department store.

Younger designers like To Tang-huang or Lin Kuo-chi are on display at Id_e Department Store, which dedicates a whole section to up-and-coming local designers, and have skyrocketed in popularity among locals over the past year or so.

Yang credits their surge in popularity to a shift in their own attitudes. ?hey were cornered by their Chinese origin, thinking that their creations had to reflect their own culture,?she says. ?hen they set themselves free from that and opened up to the world. Combining various influences, bringing opposites together give a richer creation. That is very obvious in the second part of our exhibition.?P>

Fashion photographers from London, New York, Tokyo and Taipei ?currently working for the biggest magazines around the world ?were invited to give their interpretation of women and fashion trends in the coming century. Most of them focused on the meeting of Eastern and Western civilizations as a defining theme, Yang said.

Some of their observations also crossed gender and generational barriers. A very striking picture shows an 80-year-old woman with a newborn child, signifying that in the future, beauty and fashion will no longer clash with age. Taiwanese photographer Schockley Hung worked on the melting of sexes, putting forth the concept that beauty can be masculine and feminine at the same time.

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