Top seam­ster goes be­yond red car­pet

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai xu­jun­qian@chi­

Lu Kun, Shang­hai’s fa­vorite designer, made his name and wealth from his red car­pet and party gowns but re­cently switched over to designing day­wear for young work­ing women.

“Fash­ion, by def­i­ni­tion, is some­thing that can be pop­u­lar­ized, and I want dresses that bear my name and style to be worn by as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble,” the 34-year-old said af­ter his lat­est col­lec­tion de­buted at the 2015 Fall Win­ter Shang­hai Fash­ion Week.

Lu and his two full-time tai­lors make 30 to 60 hand­made dresses a year. He charges up­wards of 20,000 yuan ($3,225) for a tai­lor­made dress but his ready-towear col­lec­tion, Mikumkum, is much cheaper at 800 to 2,000 yuan per gar­ment.

Last week’s show was dom­i­nated by dresses and skirts.

Paris Hil­ton and Vic­to­ria Beckham have worn Lu’s sig­na­ture, form-fit­ting pieces — in­spired by corsets and tra­di­tional Chi­nese qi­pao — dur­ing their vis­its to the city, but th­ese were ab­sent from the run­way this month.

They were re­placed by com­fort­able and prac­ti­cal dresses suit­able for the of­fice and ur­ban living. Some in­cluded flour­ishes like a black sash or high-waist ruf­fles to flat­ter the wearer’s fig­ure; oth­ers saw black vel­vet com­bined with satin in shades of red and pur­ple.

“The in­spi­ra­tion is from the eye-shadow palettes you typ­i­cally find in a woman’s purse. Black may be a safe bet, but brighter colors make it more stylish,” said Lu, who is of­ten com­pared here to Ital­ian duo Dolce & Gab­bana.

He cites Tu­nisian-born cou­turier Azze­dine Alaia as a per­sonal hero.

“One can choose Chanel or Dior, but it’s al­ways Lu Kun who makes one feel like a Shang­hai lady,” said Luo Zilin, a Shang­hai-born model and long­time friend of Lu’s. She won the Miss Uni­verse China beauty pageant in 2011.

Al­ways el­e­gant and ex­trav­a­gant, his en­sem­bles of­ten ref­er­ence 1930’s Shang­hai and are rarely ig­nored by the wealth­i­est women in town.

The only child of a work­ing-class fam­ily, Lu be­came a tai­lor be­cause his mother thought it could pro­vide a safe and com­fort­able living for her son, who un­der­per­formed at school.

The “lit­tle seam­ster of Shang­hai”, as many of his loyal cus­tomers re­fer to him, be­came the first designer from the city to have his own fash­ion show in 2004. Much of his sub­se­quent suc­cess owes to word-of-mouth, he said.

In what ranks as a mile­stone in the lo­cal fash­ion in­dus­try, he sur­prised his home­town with a se­ries of col­or­ful and mod­ern qi­pao at the show 11 years ago.

It would be nine more years be­fore Dior pre­sented its first haute-cou­ture show in China — an­other ma­jor mile­stone in the city’s fash­ion in­dus­try.

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