Collaborate and Curate – the two C's that have bolstered much of fashion's newsflashes in the past decade or so. They don't seem to want to cease but hear me out on this collab/curatorial venture. WOK in Milan, a saving grace of a store that showed me there was more to Milan than Via della Spiga, will be popping up in Triple Major, a store in Beijing that I've yet to visit but have on good authority that it's pretty awesome. Owner of Triple Major Ritchie Chan, is someone that I've met briefly and wrote about when he launched Project White T-Shirt. For the project, WOK owners Federica Zambon and Simona Citarella have worked together with a few young Italian designers, names that may not ring a bell but should prompt a Google flurry, to create a cohesive collection of exclusive items themed around the grotesquely hilarious, sex and food fest film that is La Grande Bouffe, directed by Marco Ferreri. A night of La Grande Bouffe and Caligula a few years ago was enough to give me surreal dream-inducing imagery to last me a lifetime. Thankfully, the inspirations from the theme have subtly infiltrated the collection, which is now in-store at Triple Major and online on Far Fetch.com. Highlights include a meat cardigan and bacon print t-shirt designed by Uppercut, a diffusion menswear line that fuses recognisable streetwear casuals with fine Italian craftsmenship. Men and women alike can now get their meat on, with perhaps the most overtly literal reference to La Grande Bouffe.
Many pieces in the collection have been designed by Caterina Coccioli and Alessandro Manz of Il Sistema Degli Oggetti, a menswear and womenswear label with a sporty leaning. Contributions include a perfecto inflected marble print short sleeved shirt with matching trousers, two-tone casual blazers and a blood-red parka in sheer organza.
Girly label Vivetta has taken her cut-out dress and applied a marble print to it, topped off by a PVC collar in two delectable shades of peach and mint.
Simona Citarella herself has also got in on the action with a pair of white cut-out shoes from her Simona Vanth shoe label.
Young Milanese milliner Lika has created some criss-cross cut-out straw sun hats, with panama styles that are also adorned by the signature ceramic bows by Cor Sine Labe Doli.
The idea of cross promoting stores from around the world isn't a new one but is definitely more than welcome when independent bricks and mortar is dwindling. I loved it when for instance, Kita Kore in Tokyo, No Discount in Melbourne and Primitive in London all did a sort of three-way exchange programme. Or when recently, a group of Tokyo boutiques such as Candy and Sister popped up in Hong Kong for a while. It's interesting to see that borders of a lone physical store can be broadened by travelling around the world, in addition to having e-commerce offerings. The teaming up of a group of like-minded designers to present a cohesive and coherent collection also enhances the curatorial aspect behind WOK's pop-up in Triple Major. Citarella and Zambon aren't just bunging together a bunch of designers with dispirate collections in to another store but instead, have carefully chosen to project a united front that simultaneously showcases the strengths of the individual designers but also the ethos behind WOK. Cross-store, cross-designer, across-the-world – it's all one happy fashion version of the Disney ride It's a Small World.
There are further cultural and social implications to analyse here in WOK and Triple Major's collaboration – taking a group of young fashion upstarts from Italy, which is well known for fashion power houses but isn't so recognised for churning out new talent to a country like China, where grassroots creativity is burgeoning but not given many platforms to grow, as consumers are still adopting the "West is Best" approach. This is the sort of thing I'll be furrowing my brows over when I visit Shanghai and Beijing over the next two weeks or so. For now though, everyone can pig out on the feast that WOK and Triple Major have laid out, and can look forward to a group of young Chinese designers participating in this project in vice versa motion.