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After fashion-forward Shanghai, Beijing shows seem stuck in reverse gear

Beijing Fashion Week began on Tuesday, with catwalks full of models in mostly rebooted traditional Chinese outfits and gowns. While the just-ended Shanghai Fashion Week aims to present the most contemporary Chinese fashion and style, it seems the Beijing event – for which the audience is largely domestic – is stuck in another historical era, despite some quite beautiful construction and romantic flair.

Catwalk collections in the Chinese capital have so far been largely based on the qipao, cheongsam and Mao suit or inspired by Chinese imperial fashion, with what seems rather piecemeal efforts at modernising them. It’s hard to deduce much about where Chinese style is going from these early shows.

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NE Tiger presented silky qipaos, skirts and traditional tops in satin – all shortened and loosened for a more modern silhouette. The effect was undeniably kitsch and cute, if a little predictable.

We’ve had pretty evening gowns in silks and satins by Wang Fei, along with some red, robe-like long dresses slashed to the thigh. Yu Jia showed fluid and pretty gowns with a touch of ’90s Hollywood elegance.

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There was no shortage of extravagance – look no further than the ornate, one-sleeved bridal gown from J. Queen Little Queen (by designer Xie Jiaqi). Yet these were all looks of the sort Chinese celebrities might consider wearing for a red-carpet domestic event.

Zhang Zhifeng presented glamourous, sexed-up couture, with slinky gowns and chunky fur coats worthy of a Chinese Bond girl. Others went for the simple and serene, embodying virtuous aesthetic codes traditional to China; examples included Guo Ruiping, who presented minimal, well cut, comfy pieces in shades of blue – though a crisp white fitted trouser suit brought additional excitement.

Chu Yan also interpreted simple Chinese traditional clothing in cotton separates and through the use of soothing colours that gave a nod to dynastic fashion, although a beautiful dégradé skirt did catch our eye. And Chen Mili impressed with a modern yet sensual men’s collection, our favourite look being an emerald green outfit that was impressively cut and well accessorised.