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RENLI SU / Instinct, courage and adventure

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Already a regular guest at London’s Dover Street Market, despite her young age, Renli Su unveils an unprecedented China compared to what usually comes in mind: a common place of low-cost productions or certain throwaway Chinese clothing.

Daughter of a globalization that shortens space-time distances, the designer of Fujian, is formed at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and continues her studies at London College of Fashion in London. Passionate about history and linked to the placid and maritime landscapes of her country of origin, in an unique and very personal cultural syncretism, Renli Su weaves her collections keeping stretch the strings between local solicitations and the discoveries related with the history of costume, discoveries carried out during the studies in Great Britain.

It’s the Victorian England that fascinates the designer in particular, as the shapes and fabrics can reveal the social life of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The fabrics revived in the fairs and vintage markets of the European metropolis, allow her to cultivate, with the typical academic look of those who are ardent for textiles – less accessible in China after the Cultural Revolution – a cure for visual details, appropriating them in the realization of her garments.

Each collection follows and elaborates a historical theme, for the Fall/Winter 2018-2019 the inspiration is drawn from the extraordinary story of the French botanist Jeanne Baret, born in 1740 and considered the first woman to circumnavigate the world. Jeanne’s insatiable curiosity and desire for adventure led her on an almost impossible journey: disguised as a man she embarked on the ship of the Prince Louis Antoine de Bouganville, remaining many years at sea and visiting the most remote places. During her travels she discovered, collected and cataloged hundreds of species of plants, among which the most famous is the bougainvillea, named in honor of the chief explorer of the expedition.

One wonders what is the connection between the French researcher and the work of the Chinese designer and it is Renli Su herself who explains it to us:

“While Jeanne Baret represented two different ways of observing the natural world, combining the feminist folk knowledge of herbalism with the botanical science until then dominated by men, I seek a balance between feminine and masculine silhouettes, fusing elements of the Victorian era and floral motifs with the sailor’s uniform for a more contemporary and active vision of the woman”

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And here is the translation, in a tenderhearted textile story:

Naval traditions are evoked by the creamy white furrowed with blue and beige stripes, sometimes with “lacquered” effect treatments that emphasize the shimmering of the sun and the salt; intense blue and faded grays suggest the depths of the oceans. Embroidered flowering branches, as if they had naturally fallen on the quilted and slightly embossed cotton, replicate the meticulous drawings of the adventurous botany. And again, cotton and linen jacquards rise like sailor sleeves. The silk and wool textures are offered thinking to protect those exposed to the weather of the trip. The Victorian details are seen in the ‘diboning of the corset’, with crossed strings and textile patchwork that together bring elements of Chinese culture, from cotton paper, to familiar work uniforms that can be traced in diagonal cuts and closures. The quilted cotton and the use of synthetic fur with very warm yak fibers, for jackets and reversible coats, insist on respecting the seasonal thermal requirements.

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Renli Su makes no secret of her inspirations and aspirations which, as herself writes, emerge from an instinct, deeply human, of adventure and the courage to follow it, regardless of one’s origin and culture, in spaces, geographical or mental, still unknown and often antithetical.

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As always, an opportunity to appreciate the discovery is to accompany you into his show-room in Paris…

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Find online the New Collection

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