This article and interview were originally commissioned for ASIAN IN NY, a blog about multicultural entertainment in New York.
The room in which Lan Yu presented her newest collection was predisposed for luxury. While most of the rooms at 558 Skylight Clarkson Square are stark white, this room was charcoal black, from floor to ceiling, adding an element of intensity and glamour.
Launching her namesake brand back in 2005, Lan Yu has since conquered the Chinese market, and based on those merits alone, is regarded as one of Asia’s most influential designers, hosting an impressive list of awards such as “China’s Top Ten Designers” by the China Designer Association, “Designer with the Highest Media Attention”, “Asia’s Most Influential Designer” at the Asian Fashion Awards, “Most Favored Designer by Superstars” by Cosmopolitan, Forbes China’s list of “2014 Forbes China 30 Under 30”. Lan Yu, is well known for her abilities to design Couture, Ready-To-Wear, and Bridal collections.
Her newest pursuit is the western market, already having opened a store in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. As you will learn from my interview with LAN YU CEO, Nicole Zhao, despite a passion for incorporating Chinese elements into the brand aesthetic, Lan Yu is steadfast in remaining true to her brand’s heritage while globalizing her audience.
The runway presentation for Fall Winter 2017 ranged from graceful, delicate, and refined nightwear to casual daytime, and formal eveningwear. The show launched with a sea of electric pastel greens, rosy silks, and creamy nude crochet undergarments and robes, all fit for a relaxing evening at home. The show then took a turn into casual and formal bombers, dresses and pantsuits in shades of blue and rosy pink velvets. The drama was turned up at the end with formal eveningwear in tweeds and velvets saturated in deep forest and emerald greens, black, and gold.
Despite the collection’s soothing palette, each one of the models sported neon lined eyebrows and chunky chokers designed by Cui Xu Studios.
With the exception of a few misguided pieces, the marriage of her mismatched two-tone materials, color palettes, and cute but sexy aesthetics definitely held their own this season.
Before the show began, I spoke with Nicole Zhao, the CEO of Lan Yu about the collection and its prospect for the future in a western market.
Asian In NY: How long have you been working with her and are you excited by the prospect of coming to the US market?
Nicole Zhao: Well we are already here! Definitely excited. I have known Lan Yu for a long time, my background is investment banking actually, only started working with her since last September when she decided to bring her business to the US.
Her design skills and my business management skills are a perfect combination to bring the brand to the US market.
Asian in NY: There is a lot of discussion surrounding the difference between consumers in the West and in China. What steps are you taking to market towards a western audience?
Nicole Zhao: One thing we always try to balance is staying true to our design identity and also customizing to the western market here. We respect market share and are trying to learn what the customer is like, which is something new, using her background, her designs, her opinions on what’s trendy what’s popular.
Asian in NY: I know she likes to incorporate Chinese culture into her designs. Do you think she is going to continue with using those elements when selling in the US?
Nicole Zhao: Definitely. One thing we decided was to stay true to our identity. It’s impossible to fake her self. People always ask how we are going to stay true to our Chinese identity, stay true to yourself. My answer? It is not a thinking process, it’s already a part of the design process. She is who she is, her upbringing, her background, her designs will reflect who she is.
Asian in NY: Who is the ideal Lan Yu woman?
Nicole Zhao: Well, a Lan Yu girl! She is someone who, of course, loves the dress. She outs best look forward, she is independent and proud of who she is.