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Tribal chin chic

By Gao Zhuyuan | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-18 09:46
Tribal chin chic

Vibrant colors, inspired by Chin people's aesthetics, dominate the collection. Photos Provided to China Daily

Tribal chin chic

Phisit Jongnarangsin, Christian Develter, Sakxit Pisalasupongs and Peter Smits at the Tube Gallery.

The facial tattoos of Myanmar's Chin women have been transformed into forward thinking fashion. Gao Zhuyuan in Bangkok explores the concept.

Some critics say fashion is just the endless recycling of grandma's outfits and tailoring them to the times.

For Christian Develter, the Bangkok-based Belgian artist, the aesthetic in his works is based on this philosophy and ancient Asian cultures.

Develter traveled to many Chinese cities in his early years and is now staying in Thailand. He held the 2012 Chinese New Year by Develter solo exhibition in Thailand.

Tribal chin chic

A history of hair

His latest show, Chin: Unmasked collection, kicked off in January at Tube Gallery in Bangkok. The paintings are inspired by Chin tribeswomen with facial tattoos - a vanishing tradition. They embrace the old fashion philosophy, but also came up with a new fusion.

The three-in-one collection was unveiled among a heady mix of cocktails, music and neon signs, silk, sequins, vibrant-colored dresses and models with facial tattoos inspired by tribal women from the north of Myanmar.

"It is about the tattooed faces of the Chin women, it is about my paintings and it is about fashion, so it is three stories in one collection," says Develter, who spent weeks traveling among the Chin tribes last year.

Some women in China from the Derung ethnic group in Yunnan also have facial tattoos from the same origin as the Chin in Myanmar, but there are only around 40 who still retain the tattoos.

Unlike Develter who has met the tattooed women, the Thai fashion designers and founders of Tube Gallery, Phisit Jongnarangsin and Sakxit Pisalasupongs, only saw Develter's pictures.

"It was such a surprise to us," Sakxit says.

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