Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Fashion trips over its skirts in Taipei

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lee Chun-chih's designs see old lines and radically cut new extremes.


It's the run-up to Fuse 2004, the event sponsored by the Ministry of Economic Affair's Industry Development Bureau (IDB), which is intended to put Taiwan' s fashion professionals on the world catwalk. Pity, then, that the show is already tripping over its hemline.

Conceptualized by international consultant, David Lim (林進南), Fuse was originally meant to present a month-long program of activities, including fashion shows, designer workshops and photo exhibits -- enough to entice designers and fashion industry heads around the world to Taipei. The IDB even planned to fork out money to fly the media into town on press junkets from US and European and fashion capitals.

In Lim's own words, Fuse was to be a "showcase of fashion concepts and innovation, sharing ideas, experiences and inspiration through collaboration with other creative talents, thus linking Taiwan fashion design talents globally."

Instead, the month of activities has been pared down to little more than a week and to just a couple locations: a catwalk show on Aug. 16 at Stage, and a fashion photo exhibit at Eslite Bookstore's Dunhua South Road location that will run Aug. 14 through Aug. 22. No international press junkets. Hardly the showcase the industry had hoped for.

An indication of where the sponsors and organizers perhaps went wrong in promoting their event can be found on its Web site,, which does more to promote Lim and the event's partners than it does the designers.

The pecking order of things to read on the site begins, appropriately enough, with an "about the sponsors" section wherein the IDB outlines its mission for Fuse 2004. Next is Lim's resume, followed by a profile of Fuse's principal partner, rock star Chang Cheng-yue (張震嶽).

We learn that A-Yue's favorite food is pizza and that he hopes to one day make a movie. If you're wondering what any of it has to do with promoting Taiwan's many fashion talents, you're not alone.

Only at the bottom of the site can you find information about the people for which Fuse has been founded. The 11 designers being promoted are Lee Chun-chih (李春枝), Jane Hu (胡雅娟), Hsu Chiu-yi (徐秋宜), Carole Chang (張 伊萍), Hsu Jen-yu (許仁宇), Hsu Yan-lin (許艷玲), Elise Huang (黃琇雯) Isabelle Wen (溫慶珠), Charin Yeh (葉珈伶), Chao Shu-yun (趙淑芸) and Gioia Pan (潘怡良).

Curious to know where Taiwan's top designers lay in the hearts and minds of Taiwan's fashion-fixated females, I did an informal poll of some 20 women at shopping areas in the Xinyi and Ximending districts.

All the ladies questioned were in their mid-20s to mid-40s and were, more importantly, impeccably appointed. Asked if they recognized any of the names, only Gioia Pan was recognized by two women as, "That shop in the Taipei 101 Mall."

One name noticeably absent from the roster of designers is Sophie Hong (洪麗 ), arguably the nation's grand dame of couture. Asked why she wasn't participating in the government's fashion whoop-up, her answer was easy enough to understand: "Taiwan's best fashion designers are far more talented at promoting their craft than the government ever will be. They're best left to their own devices."

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