Over the past few years, more and more independent Chinese fashion designers have been garnering attention and appreciation—and one of the loudest voices is that of Zhang Na (aka LALA), who studied fashion design at Xi'an Academy Fine Arts in the Shaanxi province and at MOD'ART International in Paris. In 2008, she founded her own brand Na (too), which was then re-named FAKE NATOO and, in a few years, she quickly became one of the most influential designers in China.
The Chinese name of Zhang Na’s brand is nuăn (translating to "warm" in English), a concept which is at the very core of her creations. She aims to create an intimate connection with her customer through her designs. Whenever she designs, the inspiration comes from a desire to combine emotion with fashion; to create a bond between people and clothing, people and environment.
Zhang Na says, “FAKE NATOO’s woman has always been strong and independent, a strength which doesn’t come from the power, but from her profoundness and her agility, her attitude toward life is characterized by the inner capacity to open up her heart and a feel a warm love. She understands herself and her relation with the world, she’s open to embrace the vastness of nature with a joyful heart”.
Opening the brand's AW 2014 launch were chants from Mongolian folk band Hanggai and grassland songs by Xinjiang Region's band, Mamer & IZ. Hosted at Xin Dong Chen gallery in the Beijing art district of 798, Zhang Na presented her brand new collection: a creative detour into nomadic culture and lifestyle, playing on the notes of sincerity and authenticity of a life in communion with Mother Earth. The deep relation with nature comes back not only in the pieces design, but also in colors and fabrics. Every hue reflects natural earth tones and natural fabrics like cashmere, alpaca and mohair (as well as imported organic wool from Italy) are at the core of an elegance which values simplicity and warmth. The collection as a whole created the effect of an almost alive, growing vegetation.
Another delightful touch is the yak wool handmade shirts and accessories, born from a collaboration with Norlha; a Beijing-based organization that trains and employs Tibetan nomads to process and transform the fiber of their yaks. Between the wool blankets, scarves, bone clasps, tanned sheepskin hats, the collection is earthy, eccentric and rich.
Photos by Alessandro De Toni