Take the first look, which spoke volumes of what was to come. The model wore a black jacket with leather sleeves and a “Pop Culture Obama” print -- that’s right, the president’s face multiplied many times over, as if in a crowd, and so large you could spot it from far down the runway. The images are in the Pop Art style, reminiscent of Warhol’s silk screens of Mao, but instead of holding Mao’s Little Red Book (the pocket-size edition of quotations from Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, which many figures are seen holding in Mao propaganda posters), one of the ‘Bamas holds up an oversize scannable bar code.
A comment on free-market capitalism? Maybe. Or more likely, like Warhol, just teasing us with bold, graphic, amusing images.
The prez print later pops up on shift dresses, a skirt and a floor-length gown.
Inspiration came from Pop Art's inventiveness, the punk rock movement's confrontational style and other “catalysts for change,” she writes in her program notes. But again, the message seemed clear: Lighten up. Have fun.
She tweaked traditional pieces by making them asymmetrical -- a red plaid covered one half of a melton wool overcoat and pleats went halfway around a houndstooth zipper skirt.
Military influences popped up, but softened -- several dresses featured extra fabric on the shoulders, gently pleated to resemble epaulets. And other quirky prints made for eye-catching designs, like the Chinese characters for “wan sui” (aka “long live,” as in “long live the emperor”) on various pieces and a blown-up panel of Mao handwriting on a one-shoulder wrap dress.
Is she calling for revolution? Not exactly. Rather than getting bogged down in politics she’s hoping to transcend it. After all, she explains, the Chinese New Year is “a momentous time of new hope and love.” Sounds good to us.