Tapping into her Chinese Roots, Vivienne Tam took her inspiration for her Fall 2011 collection from the Kunqu Theater of China. Kunqu, a synthesis of drama, opera and ballet, is one of the oldest and most refined styles of Chinese Theater that is still performed today.
Drawing on the stylized costumes of the Kunqu Theater, Ms. Tam translated them into a collection full of subtle drama and sculptural shapes. Structured collars wrapped architecturally around the neck and across the body, highlighted with tone on tone embroidery. Pouffy A-Line skirts added flirtatious volume and movement, also accented with embroidery. Because the embroidery was done tone-on-tone on tweed, it added dimension and interest to the garments without becoming overwhelming. Observing the embroidery up close you can appreciate fully the intricacy of the artistry involved.
Utilizing tweeds and wool for both day and evening, Ms. Tam included a nice mix of knits, silks, velvets and laces. For evening, the looks are heavily embellished using fringe, embroidery and beadwork for a feeling of glitter and lushness deserving of the Kunqu Theater. But again, Ms. Tam achieves this with mostly tonal elements, which give the necessary drama without being in-your-face. I also appreciated a lovely print Ms. Tam used for evening that had its inspiration in Chinese Landscape Painting.
In choosing a theme that is known for its elaborate costumes, it can sometimes be difficult to not give in and make over-the-top costumes. In this instance, Vivienne Tam’s Fall 2011 Kunqu Theater theme was conveyed beautifully in a collection that is dramatic, artistic and most importantly, wearable.
Photos Courtesy of Vivienne Tam