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Elemental design

By GAN TIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-04 23:53

Vivienne Tam recently launched her first jewelry collection in partnership with TSL Jewelry, and the collection betrays her influences and inspirations.

Although the collection is infused with modernity, it is inspired by the Taoist concept of wu xing, the five elements of Chinese cosmology — metal, wood, water, fire and earth — that make up the world as they succeed each other in an immutable cycle.

Elemental design

Vivienne Tam is just a little different from other well-established fashion designers with Chinese ancestry such as Phillip Lim, Jason Wu and Alexander Wang. Gan Tian tells us why.

"Everything is of these five elements, the environment, energy. Our body is also about the five elements," Tam says in an exclusive interview with China Daily backstage at the Beijing presentation of her Spring/Summer 2013 collection.

Elemental design

Water-like Tam uses Zen in her creations

"Fashion is always about the Western way of dressing, so I thought why don't I introduce this Taoist philosophy to the West, telling them how we dress ourselves and enhance our energy," she says.

Unlike most fashion designers who talk fast and loud, Tam speaks slowly in a low, calm tone. Before she answers each question, she pauses to think for a short while. She speaks fluent English, but switches frequently to Cantonese, throwing in a few Mandarin words, in order to explain the philosophy behind the collection.

The 18K gold collection features strong sculptural shapes to encapsulate the qualities associated with each element.

The Metal series uses circular shapes to highlight the propensity for change. The Wood series uses columns to signify rejuvenation and growth. The Water series represents the ceaseless cycle of life in the shape of curving waves. The Fire series features triangular structures to represent strength and the power of sun, and the Earth series comprises rectangular shapes with 18K rose gold, agate and citrine providing a sense of balance and cohesion with an underlying feeling of vitality.

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Elemental design

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