I'm going to write another retrospective post about China, internet censorship meant that a lot of this wasn't possible while I was there, so there are things to catch up on.
During our last few days in Beijing we tried desperately to get in to the newly opened exhibition for Vogue China's 5th anniversary. One night we were turned away, 'This is just for press!' they chided us and on another occasion they allowed us only a glimpse of the first floor, but eventually we made it in! All of this added to the mystique of the exhibition and the sensation that we were witnessing something vital in Chinese culture. Perhaps you don't think fashion is particularly important, but in Beijing's Chaoyang it is certainly beginning to dominant and direct the cultural atmosphere.
Vogue China is incredibly modern, the exhibition was the ultimate symbol of modernity and the rising power of the East. The exhibition, encased in a kind of space-age pod with white elevators and mirrored walkways, transported you in to a new elegance which celebrated Asian models and the Asian aesthetic. For a country which worships the strange power of western beauty and sells skin bleaching moisturiser at an alarming rate, the exhibition had a powerful resonance.
The exhibition was fabulously curated, so that every display curled in to elegance.
The Western dream may be pasted across the glass shop windows of Sanlitun and occupying empty shops which announce the imminent arrival of Chanel and Dolce &Gabbana, but at the heart of the shopping complex there is a sense of rebellion, of independence. The Chinese fashion industry has a power and momentum of its own.
Computer screens displayed some of the hundreds of photographs from the history of Vogue China's photoshoots.
China's fashion world is ultimately exclusive. As a Westerner I had access to a growing culture which would be completely alien to a large proportion of the Chinese population. 20 kwai or 2 pounds seems like a small price to pay for a fashion magazine in England, but in China it could buy four meals or a new item of clothing for your wardrobe. If you think British Vogue promotes impossible lifestyles then Chinese Vogue is the ultimate hyperbole!
The heavy tomes which tipped my luggage over the limit; Vogue China's 5th anniversary september edition and the special collection of photographs from the exhbition. For four pounds I couldn't resist sacrificing a few ragged clothes and well-leafed books to own two pieces of luxurious China.