“Walking in the Garden, Awakening from the Dream."
Spring Summer 2020 by Yuhan Wang.
The melancholy of a taboo love affair provides the emotional framework of Yuhan Wang’s collection. Wang looked to the epic 22 hour long stage play ‘The Peony Pavilion,’ written by Tang Xianzu in 1598 and its 2001 filmic adaptation, as she began to explore the psychological mood of the season. The lead character, Cui Hua, a courtesan/songstress who marries into a noble household, and later falls in love with a female cousin in a culture that strictly forbade same sex relationships, roamed at large in the creative process.
“My woman is surrounded by beauty but there is something unreachable about her,” says Wang who deploys the techniques of draping, embroidery, print and lace work in formidably feminine designs. The designer devises her own prints in watercolour and pen and for Spring Summer, the motif of the ripe peach and a slinking cat feature. “A peach is symbolic in China: it means as ‘be blessed with a long life.’ I like to engage in Chinese traditions but in a modern way,” says Wang who grew up in Shandong province. The fruit decorates her signature gathered and draped stretch satin and rippling lace tube dresses and newly introduced separates including leg of mutton sleeve blouses fastened with tiny covered buttons, fluid jacquard midi skirts finished with a blanket stitch hems and lace blazers. Throughout, traditional female handiwork is incorporated as an ironic souvenir of sentimental love. Upcycled lace doilies adorn a sheer lilac lace column dress; naïve silk thread embroideries appear on removable collars, satin pochette bags and a beaded coin purse; trimmed socks top Louis heeled satin pumps while skimpy bra-lettes and slip skirts slide in deshabille layers. Exploring the home environment, Wang dismantled traditional deco pieces including a peach tree table centrepiece re-using the real jade leaves for wreath necklaces and earrings fashioned with semi-precious gems crafted by jeweller Kay Guo.
All at once she straightens herself Slipping this way and that. To her left a brilliant streamer, On her right a cassia flag. O she bares her white wrist at the fairy bank, She plucks lingzhi from the shallows. O how my emotions delight in the pure beauty, Yet my heart is troubled and anxious. Lacking a good matchmaker to convey my joy, I consign my words to the gentle waves. Longing to express my sincerity in advance I unfasten a jade ornament by way of a sign, From ‘The nymph of the Luo River’ by Cao Zhi (192-232)