China's Great Wall gets first major fashion show

JUYONGGUAN, China Sat Oct 20, 2007 11:42pm EDT

1 of 6. A model is assisted off the catwalk while wearing a dress by fashion label Fendi at sunset on the Great Wall of China near Beijing October 19, 2007. A total of 88 models displayed designs by designers Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

JUYONGGUAN, China (Reuters Life!) - Built centuries ago to keep out the barbarian hordes, China's Great Wall was lit up on Friday with its first ever big-name fashion show.

While China's Communist Party is enclosed in a Congress, some of the country's most famous stars gathered at the Wall at Juyongguan, an hour north of Beijing, for the unveiling of a new line partly designed by Karl Lagerfeld for fashion house Fendi.

Eight-eight models strutted down a catwalk constructed on a raised platform on a restored part of the Wall to Euro-Trance music, showing off a colorful mix of furs and silks complete with belt buckles and Fendi's signature "Baguette" bags.

Chinese movie star Zhang Ziyi, perhaps best known for her role in the Oscar-winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", and a host of other celebrities added to the glamour.

"We've worked very hard for one year to prepare the collection," designer Silvia Fendi told Reuters. "Where do we go after? Maybe the moon. Why not? I feel like we have succeeded in doing something that was really a dream."

But organizing something of this scale on a landmark that the Chinese government has gone to great lengths to protect, was full of uncertainties, said Fendi CEO Michael Burke.

The event was supposed to have been held in May, but was then pushed back, which actually turned out to be a blessing, he said.

"The weather is perfect. You can see the sunset. In May there are sandstorms," Burke told Reuters.

The permit to hold the show only came through six weeks ago, even though it had been planned for over a year, as many official bodies had to give the go-ahead.

For the show, Lagerfeld said he "played with circles" to create the combination of arcs and symmetry symbolizing harmony.

"I experimented with the cuts and prints to achieve a graceful effect that would look good on Chinese models," he told Reuters, explaining his "circle" theme.

Chinese models sported mid-calf dresses in sheer and semi-opaque, worn over shorts with matching round-toe strappy stiletto heels.

China is increasingly attracting the attention of global brands, hungry for new business in a market where a booming economy has put spending money in people's pockets and stimulated a desire for luxury.

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