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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Vivienne Tam Spring 2016

My favorite thing about Vivienne Tam collections is how she bridges retro inspiration with cutting edge contemporary style. For spring 2016 runway, she thought about the androgynous attitude that was in vogue in the 1920's and how it paralleled the gender fluid attitudes of the 1970s and today.

Where exactly did that inspiration come into play? There were the dropped waist styles of the dresses that flattered the slimmer body type of flapper women. There were more linear, elongated silhouettes and a mahjong motif applique fringe that referenced the 20s as well. The contemporary equivalent of androgyny is the sporty looks and nods to skater culture of the 70s. Power mesh, athletic stripes, and bomber jackets walked down the catwalk with a color palette of black, white, sea green and Tam's signature red.

photos by Mariana Leung

Another signature feature is her modern twist on traditional Chinese embellishments. Dragons, lotus flowers and goldfish adorned her techno fabrics in laser cut appliques or stylized pop art embroidery with a bit of art deco thrown in. The mahjong tile embellishments were created with eyelets as the character motifs. This was a game that is popular with older Chinese generations but became very trendy stateside in the 1920s. Now you find the tiles used as a popular material for kitschy fashion accessories.

Vivienne Tam has such a distinct style that they are quirky, yet timeless. I love that I have pieces from her collections that span over 15 years, but I feel I can wear them at any time and still look fashion forward. When other designers use Asian influences, it often looks like it is just cultural appropriation of tired cliches. Thank goodness for Tam's multiple decades of tongue-in-cheek aesthetic to push Chinese design forward into the future.
Check out Fashion for the Year of the Monkey
by Ms. Fabulous at Mode
Here's $50 to shop the collection:

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