China Fashion Week: Wuhan designer shows oriental aesthetics via livestream
Shen Li

The 2020 AW China Fashion Week is in full swing in downtown Beijing. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the week-long event is introducing the newest collections through online streaming. This has both challenged and inspired the designers from home and abroad. Here's the story of a designer from central China's Wuhan City, once the epicenter of the outbreak, and how she defines "Designed in China" through her collections.

It is a special runway show, where everyone gets a front row seat. Simple and elegant designs are the pride and joy of Chen Wenxi, a designer based in Wuhan.

The show of her brand CLEANFLOW, which was streamed online Tuesday, was part of this year's 10+3 SHOWROOM Youth Designer Base Plan, an annual event for the country's top-level fashion and accessory designers.

A model walks in Chen Wenxi's design at 10+3 SHOWROOM. /China Fashion Week

A model walks in Chen Wenxi's design at 10+3 SHOWROOM. /China Fashion Week

Chen still recalls her surprise when she heard about getting second place at the event. She and her team only had less than a month to prepare for the big moment.

"At first we thought the fashion show would be simple without the audience, but later we realized that we couldn't be there either. It was a real challenge for me. Especially on how to ensure the integrity of my designs. So I tried each set of clothes myself, took photos and detailed all the necessary information on printed materials, including the movements of the models on stage," Chen told CGTN.

The collection was named Sheng, a Chinese pun for both "reflection" and "economize."

Chen joked that due to the ongoing pandemic, the fashion show had to dial down its glamour and resort to online streaming for a lower budget. But at the same time, the process of preparing it also offers an opportune moment for self reflection.

Chen Wenxi, founder of CLEANFLOW. /China Fashion Week

Chen Wenxi, founder of CLEANFLOW. /China Fashion Week

"This is the very first fashion show of my brand, so I think the primary job is to introduce our style to the public, to let them know who we are," said Chen.

"We prefer using natural fabrics. For example, xiangyunsha is our favorite fabric. It's a type of silk with handmade dye from natural plants and minerals. And I believe with subtle efforts from our side, this fabric can enter a more global market."

Apart from incorporating traditional crafts and materials, Chen is also keen on breaking the stereotypical Chinese style in the fashion world. She's keen to explore the essence of oriental aesthetics, and add a modern touch to it.

"I think Chinese designers now should settle down a bit, go deeper into the roots and find ways, such as the oriental philosophical way of thinking, to present with a modern perspective, work out a design that resonates beyond time and space. Only in this way can a designer produce something with real oriental charms," she explained.

In addition to its online showcase, Chen's brand is also taking part in fashion week's online "See now, buy now" selling sessions.

This edition of China Fashion Week has brought together over 170 designer brands from China and over 60 international designer brands from 15 countries, with a wide range of activities, including online runway shows and panel discussions.