Xander Zhou Shanghai Fall 2024 Collection


Xander Zhou framed this fall 2024 collection as “high-tech couture,” and titled it “Sciremony,” a hybrid of “science” and “ceremony.” “I call it couture because I want people to know I take this collection seriously,” said the Beijing-based designer after his show, “but I also want to show a different approach for menswear, using scientific research as the method.”

Zhou has positioned his runway collections as laboratory experiments that push his ready-to-wear line forward while satisfying his creative urges. Last season, he staged an intergalactic expo focused on super-intelligent humanoids. This time around he hosted a masquerade ball and fashioned his venue in the style of a natural history museum. Zhou’s taste for sci-fi was still present, but now dissolved into an examination of the future in the context of the past: “ritualistic futurism” is how he put it.

A fashion show in itself is nothing but a ritual, except that rather than celebrating life or spirituality, its rites and processions exalt the idea of change. Novelty is the mantra here, and nothing fascinates Zhou more than evolution and the ever-changing, mystifying prospect that is the future, which here took an anachronistic shape. This season, rather than proposing bionic arms and second-skin outerwear, Zhou concentrated on that most timeless and classic bastions of menswear: the suit. Zhou’s men were not cyborgs but gents and dandies who used walking sticks, wore sweeping capes, and gently swaddled cat figurines and bonsais with their arms. For a designer so enamored by science and technology, this collection seemed more concerned with the human; a little melancholic at times, and others moody and alluringly villainous.

There were slim suits ornamented with techy plates, which the designer utilized sometimes as armor and others as flattened corsets or panniers. Zhou has made this mechanical design language a signature, and it would be interesting to see him push it even further. What would these mechanisms look like embellished or woven into his lush fabrics rather than appliquéd? Zhou has worlds to explore as he ventures into the concept of “high-tech couture.” Some models donned half-bionic furry stoles and others wore robo-looking, boot-chap hybrids, both symbols of Zhou’s past-forward future. Zhou knows how to create a conversation-starter showpiece, yet his most impactful work this season was found in the nuances of his tailoring reimaginations. He extended the collars in his shirts, sometimes to fence-in the faces of his models and others as protruding sculptural accessories, and deftly sculpted the ones in his jackets with precise dramatic flare.

There was an air of gothic romance to the whole proceeding, heightened by Zhou’s toying with the idea of space and time. “The future is an enigma and my designs are conjectures, dramatized projections of hypothetical scenarios,” he wrote in his collection notes. But the future is nothing other than hypothetical until it becomes the present. What shapes our future, after all, is the curiosity of those like Zhou who also take a hand in fashioning it.

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Tags: runway, runway_review, Shanghai Fall 2024, Xander Zhou

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