Thu, Jan 25, 2007 - Page 13 News List

Simple lines,elegant styles

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER

Jamei Chen's show L'Oiseau Bleu last week in Taipei aspired to elegance and fairy tale innocence.

PHOTO: JULES QUARTLY, TAIPEI TIMES

At the designer Jamei Chen's (陳季敏) show last week most of the crowd played it safe in black-and-white ensembles. Fashion can be conservative.

This was pret-a-porter and not intended to be a statement in textile engineering or wild originality. Chen, after all, designed the Taiwan High Speed Railroad Corp (THSRC) uniforms and has been in the business for 20 years. There was no need to shock.

Even so L'Oiseau Bleu at the newly minted Xue Xue Institute (學學文創志業) in Neihu, Taipei, swarmed with TV cameras as money mingled with actors and wannabes. The presenter of Fun Taiwan Janet Hsieh (謝怡芬) turned up, as did model Joe N (中村祖) and trophy girlfriend Xu Wei-lun (許瑋倫).

Then the lights went down and a parade of foreign and local models started parading behind a plasma screen of changing colors. With a name like The Blue Bird the show had to have the peg of Maurice Maeterlinck's fairytale.

In the turn of the century play a brother and sister seek happiness, symbolized by a blue bird. Chen is presumably the good fairy who helps us find joy by buying a new set of clothes for the spring/summer season.

There was the return of polka dot in scarves (in gray silk) and cotton knitwear for the beach (in the style of 1920s or 1930s Deauville, France). If Chen has got it right the fashionable ladies who hit the city streets of Taipei and Europe on vacation this year will be wearing fitted gray linen jackets over comfy cotton trousers or shorts.

Men may be in gray, denim dungarees and natural-looking beige shirts. For eveningwear the women have the option of smart mini dresses in off-white shades. None of the models wore anything bolder than a mild pink shirt belted with a bow and even the accessories were understated bags in leather.

First impressions of simplicity and elegance were the same after the show ended. Cool and comfortable was the aim and the effect. Chen said the line was a mirror of her mood at present.

"I'm happy, business is good," she said. "Fashion is lifestyle. That's the area we're in and I'm enjoying myself."

She is expanding her small empire of boutiques and sales points at department stores around the country and last year added a baby wear line (no, she isn't having a child) to the online shopping service.

Her THSRC uniforms were conceived to capture "the spirit" of high-speed rail travel and were received positively by the public. This year she plans to open the Jamei Chen Tea House.

It has been a good couple of years for Chen who started her label in 1987, designed costumes for movies such as Stanley Kwan's (關錦鵬) Hong Kong melodrama Red Rose, White Rose (紅玫瑰,白玫瑰) and has been invited to the major fashion weeks of Paris and New York.

This was a pale collection of ready-to- wear for the coming vacations. As the black-clad audience knew, you can't go far wrong with simple colors and elegant clothes.

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