Samuel Guì Yang Shanghai Fall 2024 Collection


“This is the real Shanghai,” offered a new Shanghainese friend after Samuel Guì Yang’s fall 2024 fashion show, which marked the designer’s return to the runway since July of 2022. The space was a Shikumen-style mansion that served as a school back in the ’20s, the heyday of the architectural style that first appeared in the 1860s and combined Western and Chinese stylistic elements during the colonies.

Merging the East and West is Yang’s specialty. It’s a design vernacular that he not only speaks fluently, but has helped define—along with the current Chinese style that merges the country’s tradition and modernity—since launching his label in London in 2015 after graduating with an MA in Fashion from Central Saint Martins (he still splits his time between the two cities). “It feels good to come back and put a show in Shanghai during Fashion Week,” said the Shenzhen native, who was also shortlisted for the LVMH Prize in 2020, in between hugs and greetings from guests after the show.

True to form, Yang found inspiration this season on a touchstone of Chinese cultural tradition, the novel Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin. Also known as The Story of the Stone, the 18th century tome is considered one of the four great Chinese classical novels. Yang explained that he had been attracted to its complexity, and that he focused particularly on its first chapter “where a confession is marked on the stone left by the repairing of the heavens.”

Yang punctuated his collection with touches of bright red and deep green, weaving a parallel story of his own and unraveling it into a nuanced, contemporary wardrobe. He cropped cheongsams into sophisticated tops for day and draped them as fantastic bias cut silk and velvet sheaths for evening. Most special was the weightless touch with which Yang layered trousers, skirts, dresses, and coats, and how he cut a tangzhuang in denim and paired it with adidas sneakers (the brands have an upcoming collaboration) to offer a fresh interpretation of the tried and true Canadian tuxedo. Yang’s terrific lineup is a shining example of what happens when a designer is steadfast in their point of view. This is a creative who has long offered an idiosyncratic take on East-meets-West, and both his local market and the global stage are at last ready to embrace it.

This collection, said Yang, was about marrying elegance and practically in a “sino-aesthetic that resists singularity.” His touch is enchanting, not because of its unwillingness to embrace aesthetic stereotypes, but for the ease with which he does so to gently subvert them.

The show took place on the week’s warmest day in the middle of a mellow afternoon inside a house that sits at the of a “liking,” which is the name given to the communities located in the city’s classic residential longtangs or alleys. His models walked through the intimate space as the bells at the hems of their skirts and bags rattled. Every window was open; the city breeze billowing both Yang’s silks and the neighbors’ hanging laundry in the backdrop. “We maybe should have asked them to take them down,” joked Yang and his partner, Erik Litzén, of a pair of pink knickers sitting right across one of the windows. But they didn’t need to. True to his design ethos, on Friday Yang offered at once a glimpse of the real Shanghai and a transporting fashion experience.

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