*CLEANFLOW oriental style shines at 2020 AW China Fashion Week
*Wuhan designer debuts at 2020 AW China Fashion Week
*Designer Chen Wenxi ranks 2nd on SHOWROOM Youth Designer Base Plan
The 2020 AW China Fashion Week has kicked off in downtown Beijing. The week-long event, starting from May 1st to May 7th, has brought together over 170 designer brands from China and over 60 international designer brands from 15 countries, including France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy.
CLEANFLOW, a female designer brand established in central China’s Wuhan City in 2015, presented a collection of 15 varying oriental styled designs. Its founder and designer, Ms. Chen Wenxi, says that the design of the collection highlights a closer link with Mother Nature, either in fashion structures or materials which include worsted wool, linen, hemp fabric, silk, and Gambiered Canton Gauze.
Chen explains that for each type of material, she’s intended to expose a hidden tone, like displaying the softness out of “hard” materials, and the hardness from “soft” materials. But, ultimately, she’s keen on presenting the softness of oriental feminine beauty.
This season, China Fashion Week launched the 9th 10+3 SHOWROOM Youth Designer Base Plan, an annual event to select the country’s top-level fashion and accessory designers. After an intensive review by global fashion industry elites over submitted designs, Chen Wenxi won second place. Winners were ranked based on their performances in areas of: creativity, fashionability, culture, market potential and overall impression.
Debut runway show
Since it was founded in September 2015, CLEANFLOW has released more than 300 items of female garments ranging from gowns, coats, trousers, to accessories like scarf and handbag. “It all came as a surprise,” Ms. Chen recalls, “It was on April 1st that when we received an invitation call from the organizers of China Fashion Week, informing us that CLEANFLOW has been chosen as one of the designer brands to be put on a runway show in early May.”
The team had less than a month to prepare for the event. She decided to bring the newly designed and yet-to-be unveiled items to the runway in Beijing - a maiden experience for the team.
In view of the coronavirus outbreak, the runway show would be live streamed instead, with no audience around at the venue. Chen felt it’s a pity that she's unable to appear at her very first fashion show in person. Still, she had to ensure each procedure goes on smoothly and without any mistakes. She marked all items, and detailed the ways in which the garments would be presented by models during catwalks, in a carefully designed manual.
It’s not an easy job to complete the whole spectrum of garments given the limited period of time. The collection, which Chen named as “Reflection,” takes on low-profile but authentic tones of oriental aesthetics, involving colors like black, silver, dark blue, and olive green. When models eventually walked down the catwalk on May 5th, cascading wrinkles on the fabric, generous use of natural materials, as well as the signature contours of clothes, shone at the fashion show.
“The final design conveys a certain spirit, like a Zen monk in practice, exuding a peaceful, modest, subtle strength at all times,” Chen explained. “Now, after going through the whole process, I’ve a profound and firm understanding of my own style and aesthetic preference. It inspired me to re-examine my passion for fashion design,” she added.
Fashion v. oriental beauty
Chen Wenxi developed a keen interest in fashion design at an early age. When she was still a teenager, she vowed to establish her own brand of fashion. Then at the age of 25, one year after she graduated from SKEMA Business School in France, her dream came true.
“Water benefits Creation without any conflict,” Chen shares the inspiration from which she got in naming the brand - CLEANFLOW. “The flow is very powerful, but it doesn't show up. The name indicates a positive criticism of the fashion trend. I’m a very critical person myself, and I think there's room for improvement everywhere, especially in fashion. I think the trend of fashion needs to be purified, washed, and requires something different,” she explains.
Chen outlined key messages that she’d like the brand to convey: to be pure, clean, unassuming, and just like the freehand brushwork in drawing, epitomizes the authentic spirit of oriental culture. But she says it’s crucial to put the design in a bigger picture, and add a modern touch to traditional elements.
In Chen’s point of view, the current Chinese fashion design should overcome the stereotyped Chinese style. Instead of emphasizing on some over-the-top elements, she’d explore the essence of oriental aesthetics, and then express them in her own language. “For example, I actually see a little bit of Zen, a little bit of oriental spirit in the work of French designers, Swedish designers, among others; so I think beauty once reached a certain level must resonate across boundaries. My brand and I will continue to explore this path,” she says in a determined way.
In terms of material selection, CLEANFLOW insists on using authentic materials and prefer natural fibers. Chen elaborates, “We are committed to exploring the fabrics which embed historical and industrial advantages, and cultural traditions in China, especially silk.” Another commonly used material is Gambiered Canton Gauze, made of silk with dyeing and finishing of natural plants and minerals. It’s called “soft gold” and was included in the list of China Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008. Ms. Chen says she was mesmerized by the fabric the first time she saw it, “It was so free, beautiful, wild and modern, and so irreplicable."
China Fashion Week is an international fashion event held twice a year at various venues in Beijing, China. The event originated in 1997 and hosts professional contests, exhibitions, fashion forums and professional evaluations. As one of the designer brands on this year’s agenda, CLEANFLOW took part in the live-streamed fashion show on May 5th, and the online "See now, buy now" selling sessions on May 6th.