A Story of Friendship
At the core of 西花CHINOISES DNA is the idea of marrying Chinese ethnic craftsmanship into modern design. Many people are curious about the inception of the brand. And it’s a quite simple yet warm story – it’s a story of friendship. Felicie told me that when she decided to leave her career at Hermes behind after 15 years, she has made up her mind to try something totally different.
One day when she was window shopping in Shanghai she encountered a cotton jacket that immediately drew her attention. She purchased it right away and when she showed it to her Chinese friend, she was very surprised to discover that it was inspired by ethnic elements from Guizhou, where her friend was originally from. With the ambition of creating her own brand, Felicie embarked on a trip to Guizhou, hoping to get inspirations that will help shape her ideal brand image. Her first time in the province with her close family turned out to be super rewarding. She was deeply moved by the Miao handmade crafts, amazed by the local artistry, which motivated her to introduce it to a broader audience, as her dream brand would be allowing people to wear art every day. And this is the inception of CHINOISES brand.
In Guizhou they immersed with local culture and participated in workshop to upskill their knowledge of the rare, ancient technique of Miao's 100 birds costume made of silk embroideries.
At the Miao village, she lived with the villagers every day, who told her story behind the prints and the production process. This inspired her to create the prototype of CHINOISES bracelet. Later she modernized the design by adding lambskin elements, infusing it with a rock and roll attitude.
Indeed, CHINOISES embodies Felicie’s understanding of how modern elements could weave into traditional aesthetics. For example, the cotton belt from Miao costume got changed into lambskin. When I asked her why lambskin, she said it will give the pieces a rock n roll vibe, a hue of Parisian je ne sais quoi.
When she first saw the villagers making the fabrics she was amazed by the embroidery that she knew nothing about previously but immediately fell in love with, particularly the prints depicting mystical creature monumental to Miao culture, the granularity, the color matching and the indigo batik that hemmed the whole costume. She purchased a piece of embroideries of the skirt and immediately asked the designer to sew the batik fabrics on both sides to make it a belt that she can actually wear. And later it was replaced with lambskin, which later become one of CHINOISES celebrity items.
She also uncovered the magic of batik technique along the trip while observing the Miao ladies designing with wax beautiful drawings on fabric they would then dye in water mixed with indigo leaves that will turn deep blue and will reveal the patterns originally designed. This experience inspired her to leverage the fabric in making the cotton and silk chiffon blouse hemmed with batik.
Lately, CHINOISES entered Jingji Awards (intangible heritage culture competition) and was awarded first prize. The judges loved CHINOISES bracelet for its innovative approach to Miao embroidery, uncovering the fashion beneath the history, paying homage to Chinese culture with French chic, witticism, exquisiteness and practicality.
Felicie said she never expected to win such a renowned award. Her intention was only to have a try after a friend brought up the opportunity to her. Jingji Awards is the highest level, largest scale competition celebrating the intangible culture heritage, hosted in Danzhai, Guizhou. The competition was hosted by China Public Welfare Contest Committee, and received a total of 1206 entries across China. The top 500 entries are invited to participate in second round through a roadshow in Danzhai.
Let‘s congratulate CHINOISES for the first prize! Please follow our store at Youzan to check out the award-wining piece in detail. 😘