Thursday, March 27, 2008

From Comunista to Fashionista--Models Strut Down the Great Wall of China

When Qin Shi Huang erected the Great Wall of China in 221 BC, protection of the Chinese Empire's northern borders was what he had in mind. More than 2000 years later, Karl Lagerfeld had a different thought.

Last week, for the first time, the historic monument was transformed into the world's largest runway to showcase Fendi's Spring 2008 collection. The show, which was the grand finale to a four-day extravaganza, was attended by socialites, celebrities and fashionistas including Kate Bosworth, Zhang Ziyi, Tinsley Mortimer, Thandie Newton, ASW Members Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, Amanda Hearst, Fabiola Beracasa, Laird Borrelli, Billy Farrell (New York's ubiquitous shutterbug) and Zani Gugelmann who effusively recalls the show as being "a magical, surreal moment - surpassing all expectations I could have ever imagined."

Not everyone was so happy. ASW member and Executive Director of the Association for Asian Research, Erping Zhang, felt that "reducing a historical landmark such as the Great Wall to a commercial site for self promotion is not a decent idea."

As we march towards the 2008 Olympics, it is becoming increasingly clear that China, a politically socialist, yet seemingly economically capitalist nation is openly and visibly embracing American and European luxury brands, and placing them center stage.

It also seemed fitting that the Fendi celebrations overshadowed the Chinese Communist Party's Annual Convention, which was held during the same timeframe.

— Sabine Heller and Alonso Dominguez

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