Leading fashion brands celebrate the Chinese New Year with designs evoking man's best friend
PERHAPS IT’S because the dog is man’s best friend or maybe it’s just that canines are supposed to bring luck and prosperity. No mater the reason though, there’s no doubting that high-profile designers have pulled all the stops out in creating fashion and accessories to mark the lunar Year of the Dog.
No doubt eyeing the affluent Chinese market, the designers have mainly stayed true to the traditions of Chinese art and culture, focusing on the five colours – black, red, green, white, and yellow – that correspond to the five elements of water, fire, wood, metal, and earth while adding a few embellishments of their own.
Red, which corresponds to fire, symbolises good fortune and joy. Red is found everywhere during Chinese New Year and other holidays and family gatherings. A red envelope, a monetary gift, given in Chinese society during the holiday is one of the highlights of this auspicious festival.
“Red is the most important colour in Chinese culture,” confirms Katha Chinnabunchorn, a master of feng shui who also specialises in horoscopes.
“The red colour represents the spirit of Chinese culture, which derives from the first light after the long winter. It is usually very cold and dry, so the first warmer and sunnier days signify beginning anew, hence a new year. The red tones represent that.
“This year, according to the Chinese Zodiac, is the year of Earth Dog 2018. The auspicious colours are red for prosperity, orange to reinforce power and charisma, and purple for good fortune. The Chinese horoscope predicts that this year will be good in all respects though we need to be careful about our health. On February 15, Cai Shen, the God of Wealth will move from the north to reside in the west, so in feng shui terms no yellow colour should be in this direction in the house. Believers should welcome the god of wealth with offerings between 11pm and 1am. The following day, Chinese New Year, they will pay respect to gods and ancestors,” he continues.
Auspicious animals in this lunar year include the heavenly dragon or pheasant. “Fish are also propitious as they symbolise abundance. The dog represents the year itself, while horse and tiger are good zodiac signs with the dog,” says Katha, adding that dressing in red and in outfits that boast the prosperous patterns of animal signs on Chinese New Year Day will bring good luck.
No doubt with that in mind, British high-end brand Paul Smith has stepped into the spirit of the occasion by designing a series of celebratory pieces based around a dog motif. For men, the Year of the Dog motif appears as a subtle repeating print on a classic shirt and as a lucky red outline on a leather wallet. To further celebrate this auspicious time of year, Paul Smith has created exclusive Chinese New Year red envelopes to be shared with friends and families.
Another British brand Blackbarrett, best known for its signature graphic stories of camouflage, skulls and aliens, has boosted its city line with the creation of a 3D mesh dog. The expanded collection includes casual shirts with new volumes and details like elasticated hems and a hybrid windbreaker volume shirt.
Italian brands Diesel and Bottega Veneta have released premium limited capsule collections to welcome the dog too.
With its stance for passion, individuality and freedom of self expression, Diesel takes inspiration from the best qualities of the dog – loyalty and honesty – coming up with graphics showing a snarling dog that have been created exclusively for smart rebels within the Chinese community. A meeting of East and West, the capsule includes 14 items from apparel, denim to shoes, bags and accessories. The unique illustration and use of a pop colour graphics are mixed and matched with Diesel’s signature pieces. The snarling dog appears embossed on leather jackets, or as a superior embroidery patch on bomber jackets, sweaters, t-shirts and accessories. For her, the stunning graphic icon is proposed in a monochrome version. A unisex backpack made of nylon and leather with canine embellishments is another highlight while the dog logo also appears on a tag necklace, colourful boxers and socks.
For its part, Bottega Veneta introduces a Canine Collection featuring bright and playful pieces crafted in soft and supple leather, like wallets embellished with dachshund-shaped inlays hand-woven in nappa. Colourfully embroidered wallets are adorned with different breeds, including German shepherds, dachshunds, chihuahuas, labradors, and poodles. Dog-shaped key holders are designed in signature intrecciato. Another group of wallets and pouches features an all-over pattern of dogs in serigraphic prints in gold or white. Phone covers made with dog lovers in mind are graced with the design of a pup playing with a butterfly, a nod to the Bottega Veneta signature motif.
Paris based Longchamp, which recently introduced Thai actress Khemanit “Pancake” Jamikorn as the face of the brand, has created a Mademoiselle Longchamp XS version. The new orange mini calfskin hobo bag features the line’s signature clasp, enamelled wax stamp and a wide strap, which can be worn crossbody or over the shoulder.
Tory Burch from New York opts for a super stylish look featuring lucky red and gold for good fortune. Highlights include a Stella Gown in Red Cordovan that’s best paired with a Chelsea Metallic Convertible Clutch and Minnie Travel Ballet Flats in gold. The New Exotic Red shade can also be found on the Fleming Convertible Shoulder bag and Fleming Zip Continental Wallet, while the Miller sandals in Poppy Orange are perfect accessories with any casual outfit.
Luxurious Swiss watchmaker Piaget has long celebrated Asian customs with the zodiac sign of the relevant lunar year masterfully reimagined on the dial of its ultra-thin Altiplano watch. This year, Piaget’s master enameller Anita Porchet brings to life the symbol of the dog, elegantly staged on the dial of an edition limited to just 38 pieces. Through the magic of the cloisonne enamelling technique, she portrays the animal as a proud and loyal companion, achieving great texture and intricate detail through infinite shades of grey.
The elaborate enamelling process starts by transferring her drawing onto the surface using gold thread fixed into place with a special gum, thus creating miniature partitions or cloisons in which the enamel pigments are delicately placed. The enamel is fired multiple times at temperatures of more than 800 degrees Celsius in the kiln, before being evened out and varnished to give it its ethereal glow. Despite working within the constraints of a watch’s dial, Porchet has mastered this art in such a way that she is able to play with light and shades to create the subtlest nuances and give the dog a life-like glistening coat of fur.
Pleats Please Issey Miyake from Japan has gone for auspicious fish instead of the dog. The brand is currently celebrating 10 successful years in Thailand with a specially designed “Mede-Tai” limited edition inspired by tai, or madai, the Japanese Red Seabream, which is a symbol of good fortune.
The collection is, as always, simple and classic with a fun twist. Practical and easy to mix and match, the items come in black, gold, white and red with the seabream reworked with modernity and minimalism.
Trousers boast add-on pieces on the rims and on the back resembling fish fins while sleeveless tunics and cardigans are designed to be worn in layers or individually.
Thai designer Patinya Kyokong introduces her modern Chinese style dresses with elegant but sexy details inspired by the forbidden city of Beijing. The designer, whose ancestors hailed from China, plays with the dark side of the human mind and contrasts it with the great history of China. Highlights of the collection include a Chinese silk suit with a feminine silhouette decorated with beautiful buttons and a tunic collar and trousers with a high split.