Shiatzy Chen looked to ancient Chinese calligraphy for inspiration this fall. The ink stone, along with paper, brush and ink stick, make up what is called the “Four Treasures of Scholarly Study”. The ink stone – from which the collection gets its name – is a large water-holding reservoir and mortar used for the grinding and containment of ink.
And so, it was the ink stone that set the stage for the collection that we were about to see – a large surface filled with swirly black markings. But instead of standard calligraphy in graphic black and white, designer Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia applied brushstrokes of vivid hues for a painterly surprise.
Pink, magenta, lime, cream and stone were the colors of choice for Chen and her Far East update of classic silhouettes. Flowers were imprinted on boxy jackets as well on fluid skirts. When they appeared in 3D – as they did on a coat and dress – the were organza flowers in the most romantic shade of pale blue. Traditional Qipoas were given a sporty revision when they appeared not in silk, but in matte wool. Wool jumpers were embroidered giving a trompe l'oeil effect; and tailored pants had an iridescent luxuriousness.
Had Chen continued on this path of textural and color conflation, the collection could have been a resounding winner. But the later inclusion of those inexplicable aluminum dresses left the collection looking rushed and jerky.