Fri, Aug 27, 2004 - Page 18 News List

The fashion show must go on

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER

Models pose down after showing Fu Zi-jing's Autumn/Winter collection.

PHOTO: JULES QUARTLY, TAIPEI TIMES

The show had to go on despite an angry Typhoon Aere. Models queued up for their turn on the catwalk to breezily parade the Autumn/Winter collection of one of the country's top designers, Fu Zi-jing (傅子菁).

The event, held Tuesday at a sandbagged building in central Taipei, was a kind of coming-out party for a designer who has been a leading light on the local fashion scene for over a decade. Dresses in cherry red, bright pinks and blues loudly announced that Fu was taking a departure from her more usual black and neutral tones, for what she called a "romantic" look.

Her signature black gowns were elegantly put together with the usual painstaking eye for detail, as shown by the embroidered hems, cut lines, folds, accessories and wide-range of fabrics, many of them from original designs.

But it was the red outfit, with the long-sleeved top and Tibetan-ethnic highlights, a bare-midriff and long skirt, that grabbed the attention. A pale indigo, robe-cum-cardigan worn over calf-length trousers was in a similar vein. If this relative explosion of color is a new direction, it would seem from the reaction of those there that it was going the right way.

"She hasn't really used red before, her style has changed a lot," said public relations director Ginny Chang (張靖宜) of Fu. "Before, it was green and black, more neutral tones and this year, due to her personal emotions and maturity, she is more romantic, more easy-going."

"Though she has become famous, this became a bit of a headache for her. She was not happy with her collection. She tried to relax in her personal life and work. This effected her design, which has become more soft and mature.

Fu said her collection was inspired by the idea of opening a treasure box and said each design was the result of an idea or concept derived from an opera, a painting, a movie theme, an experience or a book.

Fashion photographer Mai Xian-yun (麥羨雲), whose lens has been tracking the fashion industry around the world for 18 years, said few local designers have their own collections, or "even their own style."

"You can't compare Fu with other designers. In the beginning she [incorporated] foreign cultures and designers. She's now moved on from this. Everyone wants an international market, but its difficult to do this. Fu Zi-jing is one of the few designers to have the opportunities."

"Taiwan fashion is quite different from the rest of the world," Mai said, adding the leading players had all been successful abroad. He mentioned Sophie Hong (洪麗芬); Shiatzy Chen, who has boutiques in Taipei, Paris and Shanghai; and Jamin Chen. These designers, he said, had enough smarts to break through internationally.

"That's the concern about the next generation, many of them don't know the next step to make it international. They have a Taiwan market, but they need international looks."

Rather than just catering to niche markets locally, Mai said, the aim should be to develop a broader appeal in order to break into Europe, Japan and the US. "China is, of course, a massive opportunity for us."

Mai also said there was a need to co-opt the media and government so they could build a platform for designers to be noticed. But the recent Ministry of Economic Affairs-led initiative to give the fashion industry a lift, with the ambitious "Fuse 2004" program, has been a disappointment.

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