Liu Canming, Fashion Designer

“The idea of fashion and how we interpret it is based on culture.”

That is how the Northwestern University host professor, Steven Fischer, opened the intimate, 20-person lecture with Chinese fashion designer Liu Canming last night. Liu stopped by the Kellogg School of Management to talk with a group of undergrads and grads (through a translator) about the literal world of fashion.

Fischer had organized a set of discussion prompts for the attendees and Liu, most of which centered upon the concept of culture — namely Chinese culture — and fashion. Although Liu is Chinese and lives and works in China, his designs are devoid of what many would envision as traditional Chinese or Oriental motifs. In fact, the first thing I thought upon opening his Fall/Winter 2009 lookbook was: Blair Waldorf. Seriously! Simple yet elegant designs on a muted palette with plaid, ruffles, detailed embroidery and high waists filled the pages. It was like we were back in New York City again. (See for yourself in our slideshow below.)

And that’s just it. Liu believes in a “fashion world,” rather than European fashion versus Chinese fashion or American. He supports designers who borrow from other cultures’ style traditions; in fact, he said he traveled to Africa as inspiration for his current line. And to further make his point, he used my embroidered, Mexican-inspired Tracy Feith for Target frock as an example. “See, those flowers are very Chinese, too, because the stitching is very detailed and the flowers look very realistic,” he said. Who knew!

Let’s just say we felt pretty cool after that one.

-Karina for TKGO

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