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Chinese films still struggle for some bling

2013-08-26 11:26:24

(China Daily) By Gan Tian


Why can Sex and the City make Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik household names, but fashion in China's chick flicks like Tiny Times and One Night Surprise leaves no impression for fashionistas?

Chinese moviemakers are also becoming more aware of that films targeted at women are closely connected with fashion. In two recently premiered movies, producers and directors have paid much more attention to couture.

Tiny Times director Guo Jingming has invited Vogue China's artistic director Huang Wei to dress all the characters, while One Night Surprise features looks from Li Hui, former fashion director of Harper's Bazaar China.

Huang says she has brought more than 3,000 items for the Tiny Times crew. She tells China's famous showbiz tabloid, Southern Metropolis Entertainment Weekly, that she had a 10-person team in the crew, plus a professional tailor making minor changes every day.

When asked what was the standard for choosing brands in this movie, Huang says "quality and details".

"There are brands like Dior, but there are also brands like Zara, and there are special items from local designers. Tiny Times has it all."

Harper's Bazaar's Li says she created more than 500 looks for One Night Surprise's female lead, Fan Bingbing, and had contacted more than 30 international labels. Li also invited the country's top designers, including Qi Gang and Wang Yutao, to create some pieces for the movie.

Some film critics say that Tiny Time is overdressed with various luxury brands, like Fendi, Burberry and Hermes. One Night Surprise, however, leaves no surprises for fashionistas.

"I think that means I have done my job correctly. I do think fashion is very important for chick flicks, but it is still not the core element," Li says.

Li says fashion in such films should be "important, but not decisive".

When Li was doing the styling work for One Night Surprise, she first thought of an image of the protagonist: an independent office worker full of dreams. So she used a large amount of simple color outfits for the leading role: dark green baby-doll dress, gray pajamas and white shirts.

China's chick movies began to connect with fashion three years ago, but critics have not been kind.

Director Xu Jinglei has invited Patricia Field, stylist from Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada, to take charge of her movie Go Lala Go! in 2010, but Field did not impress as she did for Sarah Jessica Parker and Anne Hathaway.

Important characters are wearing outsized, elaborate earrings and leopard-print A-line dresses at work. Viewers couldn't help asking: "Will office workers really dress like that?"

Fashion critic Yue Zhihai says Field's styling is beautiful on its own, but when it is put on a Chinese character in such a movie, it becomes ridiculous.

At the same time, as Li observes, the fashion and movie industries are still far away from each other. China's playwrights usually understand fashion in a superficial way. They can only add "some fashion items" into the movie, so it is difficult for them to come up with a scene like the one in which Carrie Bradshaw says "Swear it on Chanel No. 5" in Sex and the City.

So at this point, no matter how hard the director and stylist try, fashion in the movies is struggling to impress audiences.

If a chick flick is compared to a glamorous woman, then, fashion is her handbag. In China, the good thing is, the woman has abandoned the cheap crummy bag and begins to care what she is toting. But she still doesn't know how to mix and match her handbag with her dress.

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