From Xuan to Blindness: Rui Xu's Fashion Experience

21 August 2015 to 30 August 2015 | 10am – 7pm

Kensington, Upper Gulbenkian Gallery

"Prepare to be astonished and ravished by Rui Xu's works"
Dr Claire Pajaczkowska, Senior Research Tutor, Fashion and Textiles, Royal College of Art

"Rui Xu puts focus on the relationship between human being and clothing "
Xu Bing, Chinese artist

Rui Xu, a Chinese fashion designer from Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts, is revitalising the spirit of the ancient Chinese literati or Chinese high society in her Haute Couture. Like her peers, such as Laurence Xu, Shang-Xia, Zhang Huishan and Pei Guo, who have already received international recognition because of their Chinese style in their design, Rui Xu is an emerging Couturier who also rediscovers the links between current fashion and Chinese tradition.

In Rui Xu’s forthcoming fashion exhibition From Xuan to Blindness the designer will present her definitive idea about beauty and authenticity of ‘Chineseness’. Her experience of more than 20 years as a practitioner of traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy tempers a more cautious application of typical Chinese elements of pattern and embroidery on her garments. Instead, Rui Xu desires to take the best of the cultural and historic legacy of China and translate it to become relevant to today’s high fashion wearers.

‘My ambition is to revive the spirit of the ancient Chinese literati society in today’s fashion. I want to bring the loftiness and luxury of Chinese noblemen and noblewomen and empower the spiritual freedom to the wearer of my garments’, claimed the designer. Indeed, Rui Xu’s design is deeply influenced by Chinese philosophy, in particular Taoism’s ‘Naturalness’ and ‘Nonaction’. If it sounds ambiguous, it is. But in simple words, Rui Xu wants to present the high culture of China, rather than its well-known Chinatown culture. Referring to the Chinese literati society who once took dressing as a recreational pastime like painting and music, Rui Xu fuses the witty and playful essence into her design. For example, in the first part of the exhibition, the audience will see a lower garment from her Red-Dot-Design-Award-winning’ ‘Xiang Wang Yi’ series, which is a skirt with four trouser legs, merging the boundaries and structures of clothing, and strongly contrasting with the western style of strict tailoring. Rui Xu’s emphasis on skills and textile innovation will be proved in her design collection in collaboration with Dr Kinor Jiang, a textile specialist and artist at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in the third part of the exhibition. The audience will have the opportunity to look closely at the fine fabrics, which capture the splendid moment of metal burning, enabled by techniques of metal plating onto delicate natural textiles. Rui Xu, who studied fashion both in China and the UK, also points to her brand’s modernity or even post-modernity. In the second part of the exhibition, Rui Xu will show the audience her composite artworks, in which she combines the fashion language into landscape fantasy through a contemporary practice. 

Rui Xu’s design is always a fusion and dialogue of eastern and western fashion, reflecting how they understand and misunderstand each other. She is loyal to traditional Chinese non-structural shape while borrowing the western collar shape, and is fascinated by exquisite tailoring details. The large scale of her garments is reminiscent of both western brands such as Maison Margiela and the Chinese Emperor’s court robe at V&A museum. Rui Xu has explored the dynamic between the sobriety of traditional Chinese taste and the exuberance and freedom of western fashion culture. 

Curated by Dr Claire Pajaczkowska, Senior Research Tutor in Fashion and Textiles at the RCA.

Event reported by ARTouch Consulting Ltd.