- Courtesy of the Confucius Institute
By Carolyn Darr, For the Daily
Published September 25, 2013
On Sept. 26, the Michigan Union’s Anderson Room will look more like a high-end nightclub than a stately conference room. It will be hosting an interactive fashion show featuring designs by Xu Rui, an award-winning professor and fashion designer from China. The show is one portion of a three-part fashion exhibition hosted by the University’s Confucius Institute.
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Professor Joseph Lam, director of the Confucius Institute, explained how this chic event came to be offered at the University.
Lam pointed out that the Confucius Institute has offered many events and exhibitions, like lectures, exhibitions, painting, calligraphy and theater, but has yet to do anything related to fashion.
“I had the idea of doing a fashion show, and that year we were visiting The Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing,” Lam said. “I met with the director of The Academy, and I told him I wanted to do a fashion show from China, and I didn’t want to do just the traditional Chinese pieces because we have seen enough of that. I wanted something new.”
It was then that Lam was introduced to Xu Rui, who is currently the director of the Fashion Design Department within the School of Design at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in China, as well as a world-renowned fashion designer.
“I met with her, and she showed me all her work and I immediately knew this was the person I wanted,” Lam said.
Rui’s exhibition at the University is titled “To See The Invisible” and will consist of 15 garments, which will be displayed for public viewing in the Art Lounge at the University Union from Thursday until Saturday. The pieces will be further showcased on Sept. 26 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in an interactive fashion show in the Anderson Room.
“So when we say fashion show, we think of people wearing pieces of clothing and walking along the catwalk, but this is not like that, this is really avant-garde.” Lam said. “We have models, students, coming into the show. They will be wearing the clothes and dancing among the audience. The whole room will be dark, except the clothes, so they will stand out. There will be lights flashing in and out, and the models will be holding lights so it will be a whole show of fashion, light, darkness and dances, so it’s really an experience.”
This experience is not something one would regularly encounter in Ann Arbor.
“It is something that in the high-end artistic world — Paris, New York, London — you might see,” Lam said. “When you go to see her shows in those areas, you pay 100 euros, and here it’s free.”
Interested people will also have a chance to meet the artist directly and participate in a roundtable discussion with other students and staff on Sept. 27 in the Union’s Wolverine Room.
Through her collection, Rui explores the concept of “Where naught is made to aught, aught changes into naught,” or how two opposites can be transformed into one.
“People think of fashion as just pieces of clothing to keep warm because it is so basic to our lives, but actually if you think of it, fashion is always about who you are, it’s always about making a statement,” Lam said. “So this artist is exactly like that. She has this theory called ‘To See the Invisible’ because her argument is that clothes are not just clothes. For the more affluent, elite and intellectual, clothes are worn to show people who they are and what they want. What they wear is a statement of what they are. So her argument says that under every piece (of clothing), there’s a game of identity, which is what she basically meant by the ‘invisible’ part of the culture.”
The clothes themselves are as unique as the concept.
“She is using material that is not just fabric or silk,” Lam said. “She is making technologically altered, metalized clothes, which is why her clothes are not just flat. They’re also very hard with shapes that make them three-dimensional.