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Water-like Tam uses Zen in her creations


Gan Tian

| China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-05 08:50

Q&A: Vivienne Tam

What inspired you to make this collection based on the Taoist concept of wu xing?

The collection is not just about fashion, but about shapes, colors, materials and what you are wearing. They can actually enhance your energy and also balance you. I'm water, and I am in lack of fire, so I need to wear red, or wear a ruby or rose gold necklace or a triangle. These help me enhance my energy. It's true, when I wear red, it gives me good luck.

It seems your creations are very much inspired by Chinese culture. Why?

I grew up in Hong Kong, which is quite a different place (from the Chinese mainland). When I came back to China many years ago, I said, oh this is the real place I should start to see. The landscape is like Chinese paintings. Later I started to learn more about Chinese culture. Then I really feel like I am who I am, I don't want to follow Western culture. I want to use fashion, what I'm doing, as a tool, or a bridge, to bring my culture to the world, and the world's culture to the East.

It is a very large scope in terms of Chinese inspiration.

Where did you start and what is your approach?

Water-like Tam uses Zen in her creations

You know fashion, it lasts for only six months. But for me, "Chineseness" is a lifestyle instead of just fashion. I read Taoist books, I Ching, and read about wu xing. I Ching is hard to read, but I'm learning more and more. I go to temples with my parents. Sometimes I use feng shui or geomancy for my stores and designs. I meet a lot with my feng shui master. This is my lifestyle.

Do you think it is difficult to introduce Chinese philosophy to the Western fashion world?

Twenty years ago it was difficult. Now Westerners are very much into Eastern culture, but in a superficial way. I have a female business partner. Twenty years ago she came to Hong Kong, and I talked to her about feng shui and the five elements and went to temples with her, she didn't care. Gradually she really got into it. Now she has a feng shui master to tell her where she should place her beds, where she should open her doors and windows. I also remember that when I introduced my Buddha Collection to them, they wanted to find out. I want to make it more abstract, more graphic.

Did Westerners accept your idea of China Chic?

I think good design says it all. When I first brought my collection to New York, I called a meeting with some department stores. They would say, you are from Hong Kong? There were no designers there then, only manufacturers. Are you trying to sell me cheap T-shirts and blouses? I told them I was a designer but they still rejected me. I had to keep calling. I was so upset and felt so hurt. But now I use design to show my "Chineseness" to the world. It's my mission and my passion.

Gan Tian

Full coverage: Elemental design

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