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Silk suits fashion designer to a tea

By Daniel Garst | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-28 07:28

Silk suits fashion designer to a tea

Models show off creations from German designer Kathrin von Rechenberg's new Fall/Winter Line. Photos provided to China Daily

The 2013 Beijing International Design Week provided yet more evidence of the capital's emergence as a center for independent fashion design. To help kick off the design week, the Beijing-based German designer Kathrin von Rechenberg unveiled her new Fall/Winter Line with a show at the inauguration of "The Cocoon" in the exclusive Hotel Eclat at Parkview Green.

Silk suits fashion designer to a tea"I'm passionate about tea silk," Rechenberg tells me, as we chat before the show. The Taiwan fashion designer Sophia Hong introduced the Munich-born Rechenberg to tea silk, and this fabric, along with her Chinese husband from Wuhan, brought her to China in 2000.

Rechenberg says: "I buy silk from all over China, but there is only one place, the small city of Daliang in Guangdong, that prepares the fabric in the traditional tea silk way." That preparation involves dyeing the silk up to 40 times in tea and other organic ingredients and, after each dyeing, spreading it out on the grass to dry in the sun. During this process, the silk is covered with mud, giving it a unique papyrus texture. This special sheen also becomes glossier and more lustrous with age.

"Each new line of clothing highlights a color and design concept inspired by some Chinese source," says Rechenberg. "My 2013 Summer Line had red as its signature color, the clothing design drew inspiration from photos of the wooden pillars and beams at the Forbidden City."

Blue and green are the signature colors of the 2013 Fall/Winter Line, and its design is inspired by the work of the Taiwan ceramic artist Lin Zhimen, who uses cracked ash to create and draw out novel colors and patterns in the glazes.

"I've used digital printing," Rechenberg notes, "to magnify the shards of color derived from the cracked ash glazes." While explaining this, Rechenberg points to the flecks of red, cobalt blue, and forest green, all echoing semi-precious stones, on a pewter-gray background gracing the front of one of her new Fall/Winter Line creations. The designer then points to the crackled porcelain glaze pattern on the wool felt stitched on to the tea silk of a new waistcoat.

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