It’s always bothered me that my home country, Canada, gives little recognition to local designers, instead deferring to larger American or European brands. Even more baffling, however, is to consider a country like China, which is the world leader in textile production but seldom receives any credit for instigating design and fashion trends. In China Fashion, Christine Tsui attempts to change the country’s knock-off reputation by focusing on its designers, who work to overcome not only a lack of local and international recognition, but also a late-blooming fashion economy that rose from the ashy greys of China’s communist uniforms. As a result of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese designers weren’t known as more than talented tailors until the ’80s. Over three chapters that cover the ensuing decades, Tsui profiles ten designers, outlining individual achievements and offering a summary of each generation’s shared challenges and influence. Beautiful black and white photographs are plentiful throughout these sections, and through the writing may sometimes feel more like lists of facts on a resumé than full-fledge profiles, what better way to capture a country’s fashion history than through the lives of its creators? I only wish this book were part of an international series.
Christine Tsui – Berg
Book review by Alexandra Barton