A model presents a creation by Vivienne Tam during the...

A model presents a creation by Vivienne Tam during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014 collections in Manhattan. (Sept. 8, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

An ode to modern Shanghai -- Vivienne Tam’s spring line is inspired by China’s most pulsating, vibrant metropolis, and it’s evident in a lot of the looks she sent down the runway. There’s the skyline patterns on a crewneck sweater, and a lot of gritty black and white prints, and yet surprisingly this may be one of Vivienne Tam’s softest collections in years.

The China-born designer usually incorporates a good deal of Chinese symbolism in her collections, whether it’s patterns based on Chinese characters, Mao’s face or a healthy dose of red. But here the hints of and cues to China are kept to a minimum.

There are still fun, inventive patterns -- like the blown-out, black-and-white abstract plaid on a cropped jacket and shorts, the squiggle print on a pink net sheath dress and a scribbly print, like she took a huge pencil to a white blazer and drew black lines up and down, and then across. It had that aimless air to it, as if Tam got bored and started doodling while talking on the phone.

Some tops come with a diagonal slit on the front, like the diagonal buttons on a traditional cheongsam or qipao. And lotus prints pop up on dresses and jackets. The lotus paper cutout embroidered top, pants and jacket, in sleek black and white, were the most eye-catching. So, okay, Chinese references are there, but they’re subtle.


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