Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

by Joyce – Fashion Diva

On your next visit to Hong Kong, forgo that tourist-staple souvenir — the night-market cheongsam — and shop like a local. Or, in the case of Hong Kong-based fashion house Blanc de Chine, a very in-the-know local.

On your next visit to Hong Kong, forgo that tourist-staple souvenir — the night-market cheongsam — and shop like a local. Or, in the case of Hong Kong-based fashion house Blanc de Chine, a very in-the-know local.

One of Hong Kong’s best-kept secrets, Blanc de Chine has managed to attract a loyal, international following without ever having launched a single ad campaign in its entire 14-year history.

The company takes its name from the white porcelain that first originated in the Ming Dynasty in Southern China. Blanc de chine (“white of china”) ceramics were widely imported — and emulated — by France in the 17th and 18th centuries, who celebrated them for their elegant simplicity.

Devotees of this underground hit — including celebrities Eva Longoria, Michelle Yeoh, Juliette Binoche, Tiger Woods, and Chris Tucker — are attracted to the label for its gorgeous designs, undeniable mystique and sophisticated take on international fashion.

“The Blanc de Chine customer is not necessarily the logo-obsessed one,” explained Taryn Kraimer, head of PR and Marketing for Blanc de Chine’s U.S. office. “Our customers are very self-confident, well-traveled and know how important quality is. They aren’t interested in a label that shows how much money they have.”

Yet what truly differentiates the label — and gives it its market edge — are its designs, which translate the virtues of Zen Buddhism into wearable fashion. Modern interpretations of the cheongsam — a staple of each collection — fuse detailed tailoring with simplicity of design, the East-meets-West equivalent of the classic little black dress.

The result? Timeless collections with lasting quality, and an ever-growing roster of fans, who are enamored of the brand’s understated elegance.

“We offer an alternative lifestyle in contrast to the existing focus on extreme materialism,” said Kraimer. “The key to Blanc de Chine is to not get caught up in the trends.”

I recently had an opportunity to meet Blanc de Chine founder Kin Yeung in San Francisco, California. Though known for his elusive, even guarded, manner, Yeung — dressed in a mian lap, a top seller from his men’s line — greeted me with a warm handshake as if he had known me for years.

Speaking passionately about his commitment to quality, as well as his desire to capture China’s beauty and culture in his designs, Yeung explained the inspiration and philosophy behind the label’s new Dao line.

The Dao line, Yeung noted, explores the fluidity of time and structure; just as the past, present and future flow together, so a piece of cloth, draped over the body, seamlessly takes on a three-dimensional form.

Dao line pieces begin as flat, geometric cuts of fabric, which are then folded and tied to create a three-dimensional dress or blouse when worn. One piece, which resembles a square frame when laid flat, transforms into a collared, hollow vest over the body — a unique accessory that adds sophistication to a sleek dress or silk blouse.

Throughout our conversation, Yeung time and time again emphasized the Asian value of humility. I began to see it in his public persona, translated in his designs, and in the essence of his brand.

And therein lies the secret to Blanc de Chine’s allure: unlike other couture houses, Blanc de Chine embraces a sense of subtlety and modesty, resisting the temptation toward the ostentatious or boastful in favor of a grounded, quiet confidence.

Much to Tango Diva’s delight, many Blanc de Chine pieces are travel-friendly, wrinkle-resistant and made with lightweight fabrics. Functional yet design-conscious travel accessories include a silk shawl that folds into a pillow.

Never straying far from Hong Kong’s tradition of custom tailoring, Blanc de Chine still offers bespoke suits and dresses starting at $1,000. The Asian fashion house also has a home accessories collection and recently launched its younger, sportier Blue de Chine line.

Just as French importers were once captivated by blanc de chine porcelain, the world continues to be inspired by Asian fashion and culture. As collectors continue to snap up modern and classical Chinese art and artifacts at auctions, Blanc de Chine represents a wearable embodiment of the same elegance travelers still seek halfway around the world.

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Blanc de Chine currently has four retail locations: two in Hong Kong, one in Beijing, and one at 673 Fifth Avenue in New York City.

www.blancdechine.com

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