East Meets West: Oscar China Night’s Fashion Show

This fashion show was a smashing success, so when I tell you who created it, there will be no surprise. It was none other than the international fashion designer/recherche boutique hotel designer Sue Wong! Arete, which is Greek for excellence!

Just when I thought I had seen all of the repertoire of the Empress of Style’s spectacular evening gowns I was reminded as I watched this show that she created over fifteen hundred designs a year for decades – you do the math! This fact was never more apparent than on the night of the Oscars at the Oscar China Night Gala for ACCS, the American Chinese CEO Society, an event for which Ms. Wong was chairperson: on this night I once again witnessed the magnitude and multitude of her fabulous designs.

For this Oscar celebration, Ms. Wong, who has amazingly been at this for over fifty years, sent sixty-nine charming and bewitching original designs sashaying down the runway.

This enchanting fashion show was a classic Sue Wong affair, a paean to one of her favorite muses, the legendary psychoanalytic thinker Carl Jung, highlighting his archetypes of dark and light. Theatrical? Yes, Ms. Wong’s shows are indeed pure unadulterated theatre, designed to entertain, educate, and inspire viewers, as evidenced by the variety and depth of her topics and themes for the show: Asian Allure, Renaissance, Silver Screen Sirens, Shanghai Rose, Parisian Flappers, Hollywood Glamour, and my personal favorites: Angkor Wat, Gothic Romance, and Gothic Brides.
Jung describes archetypes as the forms or images that occur all over the earth. Archetypes populate our dreams and fantasies, and help define us and influence our behavior; these images find their way into ancient religions, myths, legends, fairy tales, and … fashion shows, as evidenced by the titles of the segments that Wong so artfully presented.

I must take the time to mention an astonishing fact about this fashion show: Sue Wong not only designed the clothes but styled the whole show herself! To style the show, she picked the jewelry, hand bags, and headdresses for each model’s alter ego and taught the models that special Sue Wong walk, The Goddess Walk. Wong also selected the music for each thematic episode.

A Sue Wong show is always the apotheosis of high drama, as illustrated most prodigiously by such styling elements as the first headdress worn in the Gothic Romance segment, a hauntingly beautiful arrangement with black horns; the stunning headdress of feathers and pearls that was seen in the segment Gothic Brides; the oversized hat with feathers worn by that devastating beauty, model Dustin Quick, in the Renaissance portion; and the feathers and rhinestone headdress worn by the enchanting model Jazzika in Asian Allure. As always, the brilliance of Ms. Wong’s highly creative mind is on display in these designs and theatrics.

The accompanying music was equally momentous and perfectly attuned to each segment. Particularly noteworthy were the following rhythms: Babylon of the Orient by Shanghai Restoration Project, in the opening sequence; This is Deutsch by Eisbrecher, during the Gothic Romance portion; and Lacrimosa by Virgin Black, for the especially stirring finale, a memorable end to a memorable show which ran in its entirety for 34 glorious minutes.

Handbags for the show were selected from the oeuvre of Mary Frances, a San Francisco designer whose creations simply sparkle with beads and sequins. Mary Frances Shaffer is committed to quality and to the artisans who produce some of the intricate details of her bags. She says of her designs: “The work is completed by women and men in cities and small villages in India and the Philippines who otherwise would likely have worked in poor conditions for low wages. To be a part of this endeavor, (the fashion show) to bring a thing of beauty to the consumer while helping to provide the means for families to flourish, is deeply satisfying for all of us at Mary Frances.” I especially liked her handbags carried by the models in the Gothic Brides set.

The following were my show favorites, designs I considered the stand outs of each of the sections: for Asian Allure, the Phoenix and Peony black embroidered ballgown with matching coat; for Renaissance, the long silver beaded silk gown and its accompanying embroidered coat featuring black and gold scrollwork on velvet; for Silver Screens, the long vintage champagne silk gown with its sheer coat; for Shanghai Rose, the silk chiffon copper beaded gown with its beaded fur trimmed tulle coat; for Parisian Flappers, the black silk georgette beaded art deco dress with its paneled skirt and silver accents, along with large feathered fan; for Hollywood Glamour, the platinum beaded multi-tiered scalloped dress with long train; for Angkor Wat, the black and teal embroidered ballgown with matching Edwardian coat; for Gothic Romance, the Gothic black lace ballgown and black beaded tulle coat with faux fur collar; and for Gothic Bride, the ruched beaded ballgown with satin origami coat.

I just love Sue Wong’s ensembles: they have that je ne sais quoi quality which instills in you the grand feeling you get from wearing couture fashion. I also love to swirl around in her ballgowns and hear that satisfying swoosh they make. As Ms. Wong always says, “When a woman puts on one of my gowns, she will feel like a princess!”

Sue Wong most certainly deserves the title Every Woman’s Couturier – anyone who viewed this fashion show will know why! Like Karl Lagerfeld who had to reinvent the tweed suit each season, Ms. Wong has had to reinvent the evening dress. We just lost Karl Lagerfeld, but thank God we still have Ms. Wong!