Recognised as one of China’s leading designers and influencers, Jenny Ji’s design philosophy blends Chinese chic with modern wit. Her designs feature elements of tradition tempered by intelligence and humour, resulting in a unique signature style.
After training at the Instituto Marangoni in Milan, Jenny Ji worked at Basic Krizia, Missoni Sport and D’A as a designer and visual director.
Jenny Ji founded her eponymous label, La vie by Jenny Ji in 2002, a fashion and lifestyle brand that combines the essence of Chinese sophistication with contemporary tailoring. The brand resonates with the growing population of young, independent women.
Since launching her own fashion label, many of Ji’s loyal followers have requested wedding dresses. “Actually, I don’t like most wedding gowns in China. Girls wear the same dresses with huge princess skirts and most brides look the same,” Ji says. “I finally said, ‘Okay, let me give this a try.’”
Ji’s bridal line is marked with her signature touch – simple elegance and modern Chinese style. One gown that will be featured in a Shiseido cosmetics advertisement is classic white lace with a lavish red ribbon bow around the waist, draping down the gown’s modest train; while another dress has a cutout of the Chinese character for ‘double happiness’ on the lower back, adding a touch of both creativity and traditional auspiciousness.
“A lot of brides come to us and they want too much for themselves. They want a dress that will make them look young, slim, perfect,” Ji says. “But I think girls have to remember, they’re not models and this should be the one time in your life that you should be the most like yourself.
“The most important thing is not the clothes. The dress cannot be more beautiful than the bride,” she adds.
One thing has led to another for Ji’s idea to delve into lingerie design, for example, wouldn’t have happened if she had not seen brides-to-be having difficulties finding lingerie to complement her gowns’ low backs and distinct shapes.
“There’s no designer lingerie,” says Ji, sorting through her laptop to show mock-ups of some of the 30 lingerie designs coming out in March. “A lot of my customers couldn’t find lingerie that wouldn’t change the shape of the dress. So we thought, why don’t we design wedding and honeymoon lingerie sets?”
On top of that, the La Vie lingerie collection will also include everyday wear and maternity fits. And perhaps, if she weren’t pregnant while working on this line, the latter and baby apparel wouldn’t have come to exist either. “It’s so difficult to find nice maternity lingerie. When you’re pregnant, you still want to be pretty, and not look ugly with a huge belly,” Ji says with a laugh.
East Meets West Becomes a Lifestyle fashion
Jenny Ji is a very strong proponent of “East meets West,” with modern collections that draw on cultural cues; For example, her 2010 “Blue Tiger Porcelain” collection, which took inspiration from Chinese porcelain. The classic style of “Old Shanghai” is a key element of all of her designs and a style guide that Jenny Ji constantly re-invents.
Shanghaiist described her as a “soft-handed Vivienne Tam” and with a focus on being an ethical and eco-friendly designer, Jenny Ji is looking towards the future.
“We pick something traditional and use it in a modern way, make it more fashionable,” Ji says. “We’re proud of our history and culture, and we want to do something to remember them – not just put them away.”
But don’t expect that Ji, who originally studied economics in hopes of becoming a teacher, will be making any qipaos. That just isn’t her style.
“For me, qipaos are too traditional and La Vie is about being modern. I don’t want to go the wrong way,” says Ji.
“I always say that fashion is something I can control. There are so many things you cannot control in your life, like your business, income or relationships. But fashion is something you can do for yourself and choose for yourself.”
by Xiao Xiao firstname.lastname@example.org
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