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Wearable culture

By Gan Tian | China Daily | Updated: 2014-03-10 07:10

Wearable culture

Actress Fan Bingbing and actor Liao Fan are two of Lawrence Xu's celebrity customers. Photos Provided to China Daily

Wearable culture
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Wearable culture
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A common thread runs across designer Lawrence Xu's haute couture dresses and gowns - Chinese style. He shares his inspiration with Gan Tian.

When Chinese actor Liao Fan, winner of the Silver Bear for Best Actor in the film Black Coal, Thin Ice, walked the red carpet at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival on Feb 15, fashionistas praised his taste: He chose a formal black suit with a leather collar and matched it with a small brooch of two delicate peonies in white and purple.

Fashion watchers also remember diva Fan Bingbing's "dragon robe" on the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival in 2010, which caused a big stir in the press.

But few know the designer behind these creations - Xu Jianshu.

"I wish to stay behind-the-scenes. The most beautiful things, eventually, are not designers, but garments themselves," the designer says.

Known as Lawrence Xu in the fashion world, the designer is one of the first Chinese to make it to the Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture. In January, he held a show at the Emperor Hotel in Beijing.

Xu displayed 22 creations at the show, all haute couture dresses and gowns. The designer is known for his use of traditional Chinese elements on modern garments. For the famous "dragon robe" worn by Fan, he created two dragons with crashing waves on the hem in shining yellow - this was once the pattern and color that only emperors in ancient China could use.

In his show in Paris, Xu skillfully surprised the fashion fraternity with his iconic style.

He not only used silk and embroidery to add a rich Chinese flavor but also put ink-and-wash paintings and calligraphy on the train of a gown. The garments on display featured patterns of cranes, twisting tree branches, birds and blossoming peonies.

Xu admits he had been preparing for the show for at least two years. He decided to bring it to Beijing after a friend asked him to "bring this Chinese show back to China".

"I am fascinated with Chinese culture. When I read an ancient Chinese poem or look at some ink-and-wash Chinese paintings, I wonder if they could be trendy. They are breathtakingly beautiful," Xu says.

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