Shiatzy Chen Ready To Wear Fall Winter 2013 Paris

In the face of a changing luxury landscape where Asian and more precisely brands such as Hermès’ Shang Xia and recent PPR acquisition of Qeelin are emerging as tomorrow’s heavy hitters, Taiwanese fashion house Shiatzy Chen provided an opportunity to get a taste of what’s moving and shaking on that fertile market. Despite over 30 years in the business and a foothold in Paris for well over a decade –both as part of the Fédération Française de Couture and in terms of floor space – there was a renewed shift towards international attention, made clear by the addition of Jessica Alba to the front row, dressed in a vivid blue dress from the house – for what could be seen of her amidst the crush of bodyguards, photographers and Instagrammers.  

Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia looked back to a period of lasting opulence in China, the Tang Dynasty, described as being akin to the Roman Empire. Such an analogy can be tricky, if one bears in mind the decadent excesses of the latter’s later centuries. Initially Wang’s collection impressed with its tailoring, mandarin collared mini-dresses, a smart looking duster all delivered in silk and delicately mottled with colorful splashes inspired by San Cai pottery. A photomontage adorned a burnt orange mini-dress, preceded a bold jacket of the same color with knickerbockers. A caramel leather ensemble and its horn toggles felt fresh and relevant.

But the later overabundance of superfluous details – a bow here, a cluster of ruffles on the back of an otherwise handsome dress, garish furs, inexplicable laces creeping on lapels – left the collection looking contrived, despite occasional reprieves. The long evening dresses added nothing to the conversation either. When trying to evoke opulent wealth, sometimes more is more, but here it was just too much. Shiazty Chen failed to deliver on its promises of a seamless blend of East-West luxuries.

- Lily Templeton