AO Yes Shanghai Fall 2024 Collection

On the cover of Labelhood’s fall 2024 zine is a model wearing an uber-sized gray jacket, an interpretation of the traditional tangzhuang, covered in an intricate Chinese floral pattern rendered in silver embroidery. That same piece can be seen at Labelhood’s title exhibition at the Rockbund Art Museum, and it closed AO Yes’s fall 2024 runway show this past Thursday. 

Each SHFW, Labelhood, the independent designer incubator, hosts an arts and culture festival in tandem with its own show sub-calendar, which sits within the larger Fashion Week umbrella. The Labelhoood showcase includes everything from shopping stalls, to food and drink stands, along with a couple of thematic exhibitions, which are hosted at the museum next to their designer showroom. The festival’s overarching theme this season was a “return to authenticity.”

In the aftermath of the pandemic, China’s brightest fashion talents have re-embraced their roots, giving them a “contemporary”—in Western terms—spin, and the local market has embraced right back. A trend that began with subtle nods to Chinese tradition in ready-to-wear, has since become its own fully-fledged style, becoming a promisingly profitable business proposition in the region and beyond. Austin Wang and Yangson Liu’s AO Yes is one of the emerging labels currently at the forefront of this wave.

Founded in 2022 by Wang, a former fashion editor at Vogue China, and Liu, a graduate from Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College, AO Yes examines Eastern culture and its traditional aesthetics to reappraise them through a sophisticated and modern lens. For fall, Wang and Liu considered the idea of wisdom, looking more particularly at the word Sensei. The East Asian honorific means “teacher,” and is used to refer to people of authority or who have achieved a certain level of accomplishment. “This collection is about the modern intellectual,” said the designers at a showroom visit, explaining that they wanted to craft an image of the sophisticated and educated people of today. “They are who we call Sensei,” they said. 

Wang and Liu cut a sharp double breasted jacket to pair with wide trousers made in wool suitings and herringbones, which were lined in lush Chinese jacquards and cuffed to emphasize their textile amalgamation of East-meets-West elegance. They draped fringy half-scarves into the bodices of sweaters and dresses, and employed Wang’s signature calligraphic illustrations as visual representations of their contemporary Senseis. Their signature silhouette, a hybrid of a tangzhuang and a pleated skirt, was here fashioned as a coat and worn open over short-shorts and a white shirt for both men and women. It was equal parts sexy and cerebral, as were the duo’s tailored sheaths cut with high collars and kimono shoulders, which carried the equivalent allure of a slinky bodycon dress for today’s sapiosexual. 


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