Reflection on the identity of Chinese Fashion Designers and their stardom and vulnerability

IFFTI 2019

Paper 15

Na Ou

Paris Diderot University, France

Reflection on the identity of Chinese Fashion Designers and their stardom and vulnerability

Going through these splendid 40 years of economic growth and social development in mainland China since the ‘Reform and Open Policy,’ which its Central Government has uncompromisingly adopted since 1978, this paper presents the gradual recognition of the Chinese fashion designer as a creatively demanding job and highly reputed profession, the establishment of the professional community, glittering awards, shining stardom, sky-high salary and vulnerability in the market, and last but not least, the development of appropriate relationships with the media, associations, enterprises, etc. which has assisted our fashion designers to figure out their professional identity. This is a vivid miniature of how this big country has tried its utmost to transform its early status as the world factory to a place of creativity.

The paper relies on the theories, methodologies and field works from a range of Chinese, French and English sources. It is also based on 80 semi-structured field-work interviews with fashion professionals working for the Chinese National Fashion Association and well-known Chinese fashion brands.


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Na Ou is now a PhD candidate at the doctoral school of Space, Economy, Society and Civilization at Paris Diderot University. Her thesis is titled ‘The emergence of Chinese actors in the international fashion market’. She was born in Beijing and grew up in the world of art with dance, music and traditional Chinese arts like Chinese calligraphy. She graduated from Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology with a double-bachelor degree in fashion design and engineering, and in English, she won the Excellence Award of the 5th International Fur Fashion Competition before she arrived at Paris for the study of fashion design in 2010. She then devoted her fashion and clothing research to her MBA and another Masters degree in Art History. As the only Chinese contributor of the French book Esthétiques du quotidien en Chine, she wrote New Fashion Culture of 20th century in China. As an independent journalist, she is contributing editor in Paris of China Fashion – Journal of China National Garment Association, and writes occasionally for the Chinese version of Vision and Madame Figaro.