Against a backdrop of spectacular fireworks lighting up the night sky, Zung Fu China’s ‘Hidden Faces of Macau’ Exclusive Culture Tour, organised by Coforte Organisation Development Limited, has successfully concluded at Mandarin Oriental Macau, where Chinese fashion designer He Miao recently showcased a wonderful one-act play featuring the latest designs of her Theo VII brand.
The play – staged in the centre of the hotel ballroom – presented a woman’s life through the ‘aperture’ of the dancers, encouraging women and their partners to appreciate themselves more.
“I prepared some clothes with sweet details like ruffles to represent a young girl. When she falls in love, she will have a different mentality and when she gets married she will change again,”（ says He, who explains that the show starts with a pink dress, with the colour becoming darker and darker as it sketches out a woman’s life.
“A modern female should be very tough outside but tender when she is at home. So I showcase these kinds of changes in the life of women through clothes, accessories and dance. At the end of the dance, when the little girl becomes mature enough, I use some hard garment construction and silhouettes to explain her image,” she says.
As traditional Chinese build their hopes around their children when they get old the designer wants to send the message that women can actually live their lives in a beautiful way.
The designer also believes women are gentle but still independent and mentally strong, which is why she includes many sleek designs in her Theo VII clothes. She excels at combining female elements with sleek garment construction thus the key item of the newest high-end line of the brand is a trench coat with masculine silhouette but with a beautiful corrugated waist-controlled look to help ladies look shapely. Each design of this collection is a limited release to guarantee quality.
Theo VII’s target customers are women from first and second tier cities, she adds, with strong personality and tastes.
“These kinds of women have high spending power and can afford most luxury brand clothes,” she says. “Now they need something unique and special of high quality, which they seldom find in China. It’s strange to [dress] these women in lace or something with girly designs. We also want to express that women can’t be reined in by clothes; it should be the other way – they need to [dominate] the clothes. Different people wearing our designs should showcase different feelings and styles.”
Today, she believes, too many brands want to placate customers by following the trends, abandoning their own taste and style in the process. Thus, He continues, Theo VII is presented as one of the few existing brands expressing ‘individual’ tones.
He’s beautiful life
He Miao – who studied at the Beijing Institute of Fashion and Technology and finished her Master’s degree in the London College of Fashion – is now one of the most famous young Chinese fashion designers in the international fashion industry.
What she finds interesting is that when she looks back at the beginning of her career, she found that fashion chose her rather than the other way around.
“I was dreaming of being an architect and studying traditional Chinese painting: I went to the Beijing Institute of Fashion by accident,” she says,
The first year at university was very difficult for her, as at that time she knew nothing of fashion brands and designers – to the point that she really hated the subject. Eventually, however, she was given the opportunity to do the tailoring, which ignited her interest in constructing clothes, discovering similarities with architectural building. To perfect her skills, she decided to study abroad.
“The most important thing I got from London was that I found my style,” she says. “It’s not easy for a designer to confirm his or her own style. Since then, I keep developing myself in this way, and it can be found in my brand.”
Upon graduating from London, He did not launch her brand immediately. To hone her skills, she undertook freelance designer jobs, including designing outfits for the representatives of China in Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation conferences. Later, an investor invited her to launch her own brand. Thus, Theo VII was born. The path to becoming a successful fashion brand, never easy, was not easy for He and her team either, and they found that they were spending more money than budgeted by the investor.
“It was a difficult time; we had finished the design of the collection. My partner’s parents advised me to use our money to make and sell this collection. I think we had already put so much effort into it, so why not bet on it,” she decided.
Although Theo VII has appeared in many international Fashion Week events -including those held in Milan and London – He says frankly that it is not easy to run a fashion brand, and that the hard-won achievements are “thanks to my team. Without them the brand can’t stay afloat. My tailors have followed me for two years,” she enthuses.