story by Seth Friedermann
photos by Freda Henry
Vivienne Tam is easily one of the best fashion designers who call New York City home. She is a powerful artist who creates distinct and lyrically beautiful clothing that has inborn personality. Mrs. Tam repeatedly displays an uncanny ability to complete her artistic thoughts in both her individual garments and in her overall collections. For the Fall 2011 collection, her inspiration was Chinese opera in one of its oldest forms, and its newest home.
The Kunqu style of opera is an ancient and powerful form of Chinese opera that has enjoyed a rebirth there in recent years, and is now considered an artistic taproot for much of contemporary Chinese opera. The incredulously stunning Guangzhou Opera House, by architect Zaha Hadid, provides the second of Ms. Tam’s inspirations for her latest collection. Ancient China and the new China serve as a perfect potent mix to fuel her transfixing parade of carved knits, intricate applique, and brilliant textures. The designs were a complex and complete fabric expression of both the soaring and rich style of operatic storytelling and the curving and beguiling architecture of Ms. Hadid. A rich and varied palette of colors all carried signs and signifiers of China. Whether it was an embroidered dragon, tapestry-like sections, or her marvelous take on armor, the clothes told an inspired and rousing tale.