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China Power: Swarovski and Vogue China’s Must-See Exhibitions

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Swarovski Design Exhibition in Beijing

I am so glad last week is over. You may have noticed a lack of postings recently, and that’s because I’ve been in and out of China to attend various fashion events. I know sales are supposedly slowing down but you wouldn’t know it with all the fashion celebrations going on. In a space of a week Hong Kong retailer I.T celebrated its 10th anniversary on the mainland while Vogue China feted its 7th Anniversary. Both Swarovski and Mario Testino also opened their first exhibitions in China.

vogue china, vogue 120 years, beijing

The entrance to the Vogue 120 Years exhibition

Last week I was flown to Beijing as a guest of Swarovski to attend the Vogue China Anniversary bash. A celebration of Vogue’s 120 years, it was a super glamorous event attended by the who’s who of the fashion industry. Vogue China proved their major pulling power by bringing in the likes of Christopher Bailey, Viktor & Rolf, Phillip Lim, Jason Wu, Giambattista Valli, Carven’s Guillaume Henry, Mary Katrantzou, Stephen Webster, Mario Testino, jeweller Eddie Borgo, actresses Maggie Cheung and Zhou Xun along with the industry’s top movers and shakers. Then you had the flurry of supermodels – Jessica Stam, Lindsay Wixson, Liu Wen, Du Juan and my personal favourite Carolyn Murphy (who never seems to age). Seriously who needs the Met Ball when you have this?

vogue china, vogue 120 years, beijing

Vogue covers from the years

The evening kicked off with a multi-media exhibition that paid tribute to 120 years of Vogue. Cue plenty of archival material from short videos by Guy Bourdin to images of Vogue’s most iconic covers including Twiggy circa 1967, Kate Moss’s Royal Salute and Patrick Demarchelier’s supermodel cover with the likes of Christy (Turlington), Yasmeen (Ghauri) and Nicky (Taylor). Some of Vogue China’s best-selling covers were also represented. It was a testament to the power of one of  the world’s most enduring fashion magazines.

vogue china, vogue 120 years, beijing

Short film by Guy Bourdin

The next day I headed to a different exhibition altogether as Swarovski hosted their first Design Exhibition at Beijing’s Times Art Museum. While the brand is mostly associated with crystal figurines, there is also another side to the house which includes a range of cutting edge collaborations with designers across all fields including fashion, film, design, architecture, theatre and music.

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Erickson Beamon (left) and Giles (right) have both collaborated with Swarovski on the runway

I was totally surprised by the sheer breadth of work Swarovski has done not only to support design talents but also to inspire them. On display were gorgeous catwalk jewels including pieces from Phillip Treacy’s most recent spring/summer show to crystal studded dresses by jewellers Erickson Beamon and Alexander McQueen (who funnily enough was the first fashion designer Swarovski collaborated). Then there were Hussein Chalayan’s headlamp dresses covered entirely in crystals. Other personal highlights for me were Mary Katrantzou’s archive pieces as well as her latest SS13 runway collection which features old currency notes and stamps digitally printed on Swarvoski mesh dresses.

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Mary Katrantzou’s gorgeous SS13 collection

Beyond fashion, there was the Crystal Palace series, which is a line of cutting edge chandeliers made using Swarovski crystals designed by talents such as Zaha Hadid, Ron Arad and Tord Boontje. Also on show were British design duo Fredriskon Stallard’s distinctive furniture and chandeliers including the eye-opening (pardon the pun) Iris collection which is inspired by the human eye and pieces of furniture with large holes exposing crystals growing from within.

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The Crystal Palace series

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The Iris Collection by Fredrickson Stallard

The exhibition closed with the Swarovski’s Atelier collection which was established in 2007 for designers wanting to develop catwalk jewellery for sale (Christopher Kane’s bolster necklaces have been one of the most popular collections to date). The latest deisgner to join the fold is Nicholas Kirkwood although my personal favourite this time is the latest collection by British rock jeweller Stephen Webster, which has also been featured heavily in the new Bond film Skyfall.

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Stephen Webster’s latest collection for Swarovski Atelier

Open only to industry insiders and creatives, it’s hoped that this display inspires designers of the future and potential collaborators. The next one will be held in Hong Kong in November so watch this space.

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