Tuesday 11 June 2013

Helen Lee: From Shanghai with love…

There can be no doubt about the serious fashion talent emerging from Asia – after all I manage to run a blog focusing only on labels from this side of the world.

But rarely have I seen a designer who has perfected everything about their craft and can be compared to some of the polished gems you see in places like London or Paris.

Although the talent is there, a lot of these young designers seemed to lack the one thing which I consider very important in garments: quality.

However, one designer whom I had the pleasure to meet recently has climbed right onto the top of my must buy list of Asian designers. Ladies and gentlemen, meet China's very own Helen Lee.

From her choice of top-notch fabrics to the original prints, immaculate cutting and finishing and superb details – Helen had me at hello.

My two absolute favourite looks from Helen Lee: A lace rain coat
from the SS13 collection...

And a stunning combination of knitted sweater, moon-printed skirt
and gorgeous accessories from the AW13 collection.

The Shanghai-based designer, who has been at the forefront of the Chinese emerging designers scene since establishing her label in 2008, clearly knows what it takes to make it big. And although yet to be a household name in the rest of the world, Helen is arguably one of the most successful emerging designer in the world's most populous nation.

With Chinese prestigious fashion publications featuring her label day in, day out, her two retail spaces in Shanghai and a network of distributors in China and around the world – she is definitely one to watch!

Now let’s talk about the clothes.

The first to catch my attention were the gorgeous silk printed dresses and the lace raincoats from her SS13 collection. Yes raincoats with lace insets which make me wish it would rain everyday! Fun, flirty and simply original, Helen’s designs use colours and prints without losing that chic and elegant vibe. The trick being well-thought-out silhouettes which would look great and appropriate on a 20-year old as well as a 40-year old woman depending on styling.

Add to that some more daring crop tops with matching pencil skirts and you get a winner collection!

At first glance, her latest FW13 collection appears to be more toned-down that the colourful summer pieces – but hides within some amazing details. The theme being the ‘Moon’, Helen manages to re-interpret polkadots with a moon print on silk separates and scarves and teams the once whimsical cutesy print with grown-up chunky knitted sweaters in delicious shades of orange, yellow, green and blue… simply stunning! Detail is definitely her thing. Check out the coats and skirts which are subtly embossed with the shape of the moon as well.

The coats (lined with printed silk and beautifully-finished), silk printed bomber jackets (which according to the designer were her best-selling pieces this summer), shoes, knits, dresses and even scarves (worn on the head in a very glamorous manner in the lookbook photos) – honestly I could wear every single piece in the collection!

Having finally met Helen in Singapore recently after seeing her work a few months earlier – I do hope that some boutiques in Singapore would be carrying her line soon. Otherwise, I will certainly make a stop in Shanghai in the coming few months – just so I can pick up a piece or two from my favourite designer from China so far.