What happens when we die?

Chinese designer Xander Zhou has painted a picture. “I believe one day consciousness will be able to exist in the cloud, in the form of AI, completely detached from any physical human body,” he says .

For his latest Spring/Summer 2020 collection his interpretation was manifested through large digital screens displaying a virtual catwalk. Facing it were editors sitting in meditative poses, wearing nylon Xander Zhou branded skirts, while incense burned in the back and calming sounds filled the room. It was a way to dissolve any sense of hierarchy among showgoers. Equality at last.

“When doing research, I found that across cultures around the world, men who perform certain rites or ceremonies wear outfits that have striking resemblances,” Zhou explains. “One of the elements that recurs is a skirt-like garment.”

So naturally it was the skirt that took center stage, both as a symbolic gesture and as a way to introduce gender-fluid dressing to the masses in a non-threatening way by styling those made in canvas with graphic tees and sweats.

Sarongs, traditional Japanese sandals and wrap dresses with medallion detailing gave it a monistic aesthetic. Luckily there were plenty of wearable monochrome two pieces in there too.

But more than just making a statement for the sake of it, Zhou was completing a narrative. Where his journey around human form began with “creation of life” for Spring/Summer 2019 with models sporting pregnant bellies, and “human evolution” the next season with models having given birth, this time it was about “consciousness”.

“It’s the same as where the meditation process leads you,” Zhou explains

It was the final chapter as the physical being was transformed to one that lives strictly in the digital space. As a result real, physical and CGI models appeared alongside each other. Both had to go through a scrutinizing round of casting, not all making the final cut.

Zhou’s shows are never mundane, but they’re hit and miss. Some more successful at conveying the narrative than others. If the designer wants to grow his business, a more digestible show format needs to be adopted, one that the end consumer can understand without being present at the show itself.

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