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Women Are Tigers – Snow Xue Gao F/W 21

Snow Xue Gao has consistently been a designer of duality, and for Fall/Winter 2021 she investigated the intersection between her own pandemic-influenced Netflix binging and a Chinese children’s poem entitled “Women Are Tigers”. Though this mashup may seem confusing to some, Gao’s ability to meld disparate elements into a cohesive story was on full display here, as was her fascination with juxtaposing Eastern and Western aesthetics.

The collection’s square necklines and corset detailing’s are a clear nod to Shonda Rhimes’ hit show Bridgerton, and one can only imagine the allure these pieces would have on the show’s protagonist Daphne. Puffed bishop sleeves added to the romantic, 19th century feel, and blouses spliced together out of contrasting strips of fabric gave the illusion of the elegant regency gowns sported by the women of the Bridgerton world. Gao, however, is not one to be lost in the frills and fuss of “traditionally” feminine fashion, and offset these pieces with her signature sharp slacks. They came cropped and flared, and were crafted out of supple grey and black suiting fabrics that added a sense of grounding to the collection.

Die-hard fans will recognize these tailored, masculine elements as hallmarks of Gao’s aesthetic, but what was a pleasant surprise this season was her use of restraint. Whereas before Gao’s half-and-half mixtures skewed on the side of over designed, this season found her using subtle flourishes to accentuate her beautifully cut outerwear. Silk floral piping decorated the seams of some blazers and coats while singular tie and wrap details cinched the waists of others. All of these pieces were crafted out of a luxurious looking melton wool and maintained a sense of easiness that resonates with Gao’s customers.

This ease flowed into the collection’s shift dresses too, which are sure to be standouts on the streets of Soho or Shanghai come summertime. They came with asymmetric hemlines and a billowing drape, and featured two contrasting panels of the same silk floral that Gao used for her piping. Another iteration was strictly black and white, with interest being added by a large print of a tiger across its front.

Wearable pieces like these will no doubt push Gao’s business further, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t going to stop experimenting (nor should she). One of her most compelling concepts this season was a pencil skirt constructed out of the parts of a blazer – an idea that sounds crazy in writing, but is fully believable after seeing her execution. It bridged the gap between fashion and function, and signals a growth in Gao that is sure to only lead her to greater and grander things.

Photos courtesy of Xin Pan (@curtispan).


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