There is the China of factories, staffed by expressionless faces and punctuated by robotic movements. There is the China of staggering development, with scaffoldings peeled away on a daily basis to reveal striking new towers, gleaming, expansive malls, modern stadia and marvellously abstract concert halls. There is also the China of sheer density, of masses and masses of people on their bikes, assembled in public squares, or teeming into the streets.
In the haze of progress, we seem to forget that there is another China – romantic, mysterious, inscrutable and intriguing.
For its 2011-2012 Autumn/Winter Collection, Shanghai Tang, the chic Hong Kong luxury label inspired by the glamour and sophistication of Old Shanghai, presented a stunning new advertising campaign called ‘From China with Love’. Shot by renowned photographer Chen Man and starring the brand’s official endorser, Taiwanese actress Lin Chiling, together with actor Hu Bing, ‘From China with Love’ features a beautifully beguiling China steeped in antiquity yet resolutely forward-looking in outlook.
Shanghai Tang describes it as a series of romantically cinematic images that depict the unique, new sense of modern luxury in contemporary Chinese society, presented by some of China’s most exciting creative talents. “It is an artistic expression of the rapidly changing economic, social, and cultural Chinese landscape. It is a visual re-discovery of modern Chinese aesthetics as we follow a sophisticated couple exploring the enchanting juxtapositions of ancient and modern-day Beijing – through the backstreets of historical hutongs, past ancient monuments, to one of the capital’s hippest hotspots.”
Apart from menswear and ladies clothing, the new collection features a dramatic statement necklace of Chinese knots embroidered with multiple strands of metal chain and the dragon symbol carved onto mother-of-pearl, labradorite stones and Swarovski crystals by international accessories designer Bea Valdes, who was commissioned to create the piece.
With China’s economy growing at breathtaking pace, it is fitting that this vast nation is portrayed not just as a significant player in the global luxury market, but as one finding a way to seamlessly straddle the contrasts between the astounding development of modern China and the grand traditions of ancient China.
How can you not fall in love with China now?
Text by Bambina Olivares Wise
All photos of the collection from Shanghai Tang