Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Real Virtuality Presented By Xander Zhou

Written by Xander Zhou
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Xander Zhou
The Spring-Summer 2021 collection from Xander Zhou “Real Virtuality” is based on virtual existence in a real, physical sense.

Inspiration for the SS21 collection has come from integrating and deconstructing elements of Xander Zhou’s past seasons. Five years ago, in his SS16 collection, Xander Zhou faced his Chinese roots for the first time since he started showing his collections in London. The dragon totem first appeared in that collection, and now, this iconic decorative image derived from traditional Chinese culture reappears, yet in a different and new mechanicalized way. Xander ZHhou’s SS21 collection is both a reconstruction and an upgrade of the brand’s DNA.
As a result of the pandemic, Xander Zhou was stranded in Europe for ten months. Seizing this opportunity for self-reflection, he conducted a comprehensive review of his past creative journey. Xander Zhou could only remotely direct the design process by way of “imagining” what the collection should look like. When he first saw the real collection earlier this month, he found that it did look as it should. A result not only brought about by experience, but also by the experimental confirmation of a belief held by the designer that ‘subjective consciousness determines objective existence.’ He says about his SS21 collection: “At first glance, everything seems to make sense. But on closer inspection, nothing makes sense.”

The various elements that have been used in this collection include Acupuncture points, dragon totems and frog fastenings - the traditional Chinese knotted-button-and-loop fastenings.
Belly covers, which are a traditional Chinese undergarment originally worn by women, melon skullcaps, a traditional Chinese accessory worn by men and “Human Skin” facemasks, originally used for traditional Chinese shapeshifting performances. Crystal stones with curative properties according to Chinese traditions were also used in this collection of clothing.

Xander Zhou wanders on the boundary between cutting-edge science and Eastern philosophy. The designer believes that the human body’s own system shares the same energy that permeates the universe. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said: “Man follows the laws of Earth. Earth follows the laws of Heaven. Heaven follows the laws of Tao. And Tao follows the laws of Nature.” Man is equally Nature as are Heaven and Earth, and the Universe equals Nature.

For example, the collection features multiple outdoor looks, but the dragon-shaped laser-cut hole patterns eliminate the fabric’s inherent waterproof quality. In the same way, the frog fastenings that were originally used on traditional Chinese garments unexpectedly merge with sports fabrics, harmoniously exuding a highly modern Easternness. Traditional Chinese melon skullcaps make an appearance in new materials and colours echoing the type of caps that men wear nowadays, and infusing them with a distinctive blend of contemporariness. The saturated yellows and reds that were held in such high esteem at the Imperial Court are applied to outdoor garments, doing away with the original function of indicating one’s rank when worn in silk. These are all examples of how Xander Zhou applies surrealism to reality - by using the present to fabricate the past, and thereby creating a path to a new future. Yet another understanding of “Real Virtuality”.


Xander Zhou