When London Collections: Men announced that the relatively unknown Chinese designer Xander Zhou would be showing his Spring/Summer 2013 collection as a runway show as part of the official calendar of events, most fashion journalists became intrigued. The curiosity was further augmented when GQ China magazine was announced as partner of the show and when audiences found out that Xander Zhou, who established his eponymous label in 2007 in Beijing, would be the first Chinese menswear designer to show his work outside China.
Entitled ‘Fleurdelism’ (a noun suggesting a cultural movement coined from ‘fleur-de-lis’, the emblematic lily from heraldic coats of arms and Scouts badges), the collection was described as having been inspired by the great outdoors and activities such as camping and hiking. In order to express the notion of freedom of movement in nature, Xander Zhou played with shape to create images of men in oversized garments mixed with more precise and fit silhouettes.
One prominent and elegant feature of the collection was the introduction of large collars that could be tied around the neck, resembling neckerchiefs worn by boy scouts. At the same time, wide colourful stripes in dramatic shapes of outerwear were inspired by canvas patterns traditionally seen in camping tents, whereas the textures of elegant silk fabrics invoked the natural patterns and shapes of tree barks and cracks on the soil. High-waisted dungarees were also introduced to suggest outdoors practical clothing traditionally worn during manual work or leisure activities in nature. The inspiration from the environment was further stressed in a palette that included woody greens and earthy browns.
If the imagery associated with nature contributed to an extremely seductive range of garments, there were many other reasons to consider this a very accomplished collection. The choice of silk as the main fabric (in various blends with wool and nylon) contributed to a luxurious feel throughout the multi-layered light clothes. Nature might have been the influence for some elements of the collection, but The Style Examiner found that the urbane elegant tailoring, the choice of a sophisticated range of colours (such as black, lilac and cream), and the dotted textures and patterns on layered fabrics made Xander Zhou’s runway show one of the highlights of London Men’s Fashion Week.