Culture | Vivienne Tam on a modern design journey down the Silk Road
New York-based designer Vivienne Tam takes applause after her show. Photo: Courtesy of Vivienne Tam
New York-based designer Vivienne Tam takes applause after her show. Photo: Courtesy of Vivienne Tam

Modern journey with old world charm

New York-based designer shares her inspiration for her spring-summer collection – the New Silk Road and its shared similarities with Houston

January 9, 2017 11:08 AM (UTC+8)

What’s the inspiration for your latest collection?
My SS2017 Collection is inspired by the “New Silk Road” [of trade links between China and the West]. This is an idea of a modern journey that is quite different from, although influenced by, the traditional Silk Road.

While embarking on this new maritime route, I’m adding more of a cultural mix into the aesthetic by making a detour to the city of Houston, USA. It’s a curious mix maybe, but like the exotic places along the traditional Silk Road, Houston is rich in cultural resources and influences. The diversity of its population and the abundance of art museums and cultural institutions make Houston one of the key destinations influencing this collection.

What kind of images or motifs did you borrow from Houston culture?
I incorporated in my designs logos from various Houston institutions such as NASA, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. “Eastern and Space Cowboy” symbols punctuate the collection. A map of Houston’s ecologically diverse bayou and the city’s indigenous flora and fauna are expressed in prints and embroideries. Complementing the looks are suede and fringe bags printed with Houston imagery.

Models strut down the catwalk for the finale of Vivienne Tam's spring summer collection at New York Fashion Week. Photo: Courtesy of Vivienne Tam
Models strut down the catwalk for the finale of Vivienne Tam’s spring summer collection at New York Fashion Week. Photo: Courtesy of Vivienne Tam

You move between New York and Hong Kong regularly and often visit mainland China. What do each of these places give you?
Each place has its own beauty. New York is cosmopolitan, vibrant and an energetic melting pot. Hong Kong, where I come from, is a global city basking in the spirit of “East meets West.” China is gradually becoming a great modern country, while maintaining its old world charm. I am consistently inspired by its values, art, craft and the architecture that emerged from its long and mysterious history. I love them all.

Vivienne Tam's Nasa bayou appliqued white tulle dress with a HTOWN logo has been inspired by Houston and the New Silk Road in her spring-summer 2017 collection. Photo: Courtesy of Vivienne Tam
Nasa bayou appliqued white tulle dress. Photo: Courtesy of Vivienne Tam

What do you predict for the future of fashion in China?
China will become a fashion powerhouse in the near future as more home-grown designers gain attention on the world stage and more Chinese consumers start looking locally for designer brands. The proliferation of e-commerce will be the catalyst for this new phenomenon.

You recently (and finally!) launched your e-commerce site (www.viviennetam.com). Tell us how this is going to affect the brand?
E-commerce allows us to expand our reach. We can now introduce new products and attract a much wider audience. There’s now more flexibility with what we do, but it’s also a platform to express our design aesthetic and where we can promote new ideas and stay in touch with our customers.

How is style different in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong?
Beijing is about old-world luxury with a modern touch. Shanghai is more trendy and edgy. Hong Kong is about lifestyle and freedom.

A Vivienne Tam black and white checkerboard rodeo jacquard jacket with a pink cotton Houston collage Montrose tie-dye T-shirt and black tiered lace skirt at New York Fashion Week. Photo: Courtesy of Vivienne Tam
A black-and-white checkerboard rodeo jacquard jacket with a pink cotton Houston collage Montrose tie-dye T-shirt and black-tiered lace skirt at New York Fashion Week. Photo: Courtesy of Vivienne Tam

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