The Label: Mandarin & General
Based In: New York City
Designed By: Taiwanese-born, New York-based Peggy Tan—a Parsons educated interior designer—who took on the conceptual challenge of blending the heritage of Mandarin-style dressmaking with a Westernized aesthetic after doing extensive research on Chinese garment history and studying traditional Chinese tailoring with two master tailors in Taipei. "The idea behind it is to celebrate my cultural heritage by utilizing traditional Chinese garment-making principles in a modern context," Tan tells The Fashion Informer of her label, which launched in early 2011 and is produced locally in New York. "It is a very different approach towards the culture of my heritage. I am not so interested in the decorative motifs and theatrics of the stereotypical 'chinoiserie,' but rather the reinvestigation of garment specification and structural details in a contemporary context. I want the name, Mandarin & General, to carry out that same concept and vision—it is Chinese and beyond."
Looks Like: Chinese dress meets French New Wave. For fall 2012, inspired by the idea of opposing visual style elements, Tan created two-tone, bi-panel pants and pencil skirts, sleek belted reefer coats and chic mandarin-collared dresses. For spring 2013, she riffed on the beauty of disappearing jungles and the other environmental effects of human dependency on energy consumption. Hence the easy anoraks, graphic kaleidoscopic print pieces, button-cuff trousers and asymmetric placket tops and dresses, which nod to classic Chinese silhouettes—and her seasonal theme—in a stylishly subtle way. "I would like to use the powerful tool that design is to communicate matters that are relevant to me and resonate with my audience," says Tan, who envisions her clients as "stylish, sophisticated and confident women with an acquired taste and appreciation for the cultural roots that influence modern design." For fall 2013, she is collaborating with the painter Suzanne Song on prints for the collection.
Sold At: Mandarin & General sells for $175 - $598 at AnyShopStyle in Beijing, ELLEshop.com.cn and online at Mandarin & General's e-com shop.
graphic design by K Sarna