From a young age Gao Yang or Simon Gao, the Beijing native, was an international man. At the age of 15, he had already traveled more that most people in their 20’s can claim. He studied abroad in Singapore, Switzerland and New Zealand, sealing his fate as a man who would have influential power on a global stage. After his study abroad experience, he returned to China, and graduated from Raffles-BIC International Fashion College in 2012, after which he launched his eponymous label SIMONGAO.
Known for his blend of complicated architectural structure within the confines of simple lines, its safe to say that his attention to detail and Chinese aesthetic are his MO .
In 2009, he was designated Esquire Designer of the Year and in 2013 was awarded the Mercedes-Benz China Young Fashion Award, where he was recognized as an upcoming pioneer of the Haute Couture industry. (Each year Mercedes-Benz chooses a designer to support in pursuit of strengthening the global fashion scene). Awarded for his use of eastern wisdom and western tailoring techniques, Simon Gao has since proven worthy of the recognition and support.
Gao attended Paris Fashion Week 2013, debuting his Autumn/Winter ’13 Cosmic Energy Collection, inspired by the Chinese theory of the 5 natural elements- Wood (mu 木), Fire (huo 火), Earth (tu 土), Metal (jin 金) and Water (shui 水)- in addition to the oriental wisdom of the Cosmos, believed to control the change and movement of the Universe. His collections consist of Men’s and Women’s Ready-To-Wear and works of Haute Couture.
At China Fashion Week 2013, Simon Gao produced a Spring/Summer line centrifuged on Imperial Chic Style. On some of the more exquisite pieces, Gao played with dress designs from the Han dynasty, subtly layering golden Chinese opera masks on top of elegant black gowns, an intelligent and playful combination of traditional Chinese styles with modern sensibilities. The best part about his designs is that they are artistic yet wearable.
A number of the designs featured white on black, traditional funeral colors in China, for a striking effect in both a visual and figurative sense. For this collection, Gao also collaborated with Hong Kong Jewelry company Chow Tai Fook “Charming Gold for Simon Gao” with a special collection of gold accessories inspired by elves and fantasy legends.
For it’s first collaboration with a Chinese designer, the French department store, Galeries Lafayette, worked together with Gao on a limited edition collection entitled Simon Gao for Galeries Lafayette, which then debuted at Paris Fashion Week 2013.The collection has received support from many of the Chinese fashion world’s most influential people.
Shutting its Beijing doors 14 years ago due to a report of disappointing sales, they have recently gained back their confidence through the success of Corso Como and Lane Crawford. A section of their department store labeled The Beijing Labo, will be dedicated specifically to showcasing collections by Chinese designers. Galeries Lafayette recently opened a flagship store in Beijing. Located on Xidan walking street, the new store has six floors that cover 47,000 square meters – about half the size of its Paris store. In addition, Galeries Lafayette has collaborated with Chinese designer Simon Gao on a limited edition collection for the Beijing store. It is the first collaboration between the French department store and a Chinese designer.
London Fashion Week 2014 brought to the forefront another one of Gao’s promising collections, “Contrasting Wisdom” also supported by Mercedez Benz. The method behind this collection is to capture the contrast between the eastern and western concept of color, texture, material and element of civilization. Gao utilized traditional eastern materials such as fur, wool, cashmere, cotton and silk and followed the usual gray scale with splashes of color, all while entertaining the modern day techniques of engraving, flocking, stitching and exquisite leather engineering details.
The central and most important skill, at least in my opinion, as an aspiring designer in 2014, is to have the ability and creativity to manipulate and incorporate traditional and modern concepts in order to bring fresh ideas to the fashion industry, while also shedding light on one’s culture, in this case: China.
The efficiency and professional execution of these shows are obvious indicators of the growing maturity in China’s fashion scene.
Here are some other awesome avant-garde designs by Gao back in 2012: