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City Visited by Fashion World

Shanghai dreams of becoming an international fashion center. But as the city's eighth annual fashion festival shows, while more international designers are paying attention to the city, Shanghai still lags far behind New York, Paris and Milan.

While the foreign models and clothing have arrived for the 10-day event, most of the world's top-name designers won't be seen anywhere near the city's catwalks this year. Many international shows won't let houses show their collections unless their designers show up in person, but Shanghai isn't yet important enough in the fashion world to make such a demand.

More than 20 of the fashion world's biggest names, including Celine, Fendi Lagerfeld and Loewe, will showcase their latest collections to local audiences and take part in seminars and lectures with Chinese designers during the festival, which kicked off last night at Xintiandi.

As per tradition, the event will include a model competition, with 47 foreign beauties from some 30 different countries joining 26 local models to strut their stuff on the catwalk.

Jiang Guangyu, general secretary of the festival's organization committee, said the presence of a handful of international designers and all those foreign models shows Shanghai is becoming an important fashion hub in Asia.

"It proves that Shanghai is already attracting attention from international fashion circles," Jiang said.

Of course, no local fashion event would be complete without a little Chinese content.

Due to the revival of traditional Chinese clothes, known as "tang zhuang," domestic designers will gather together during the festival to exchange ideas about the century-old style of dress and showcase their latest designs of the traditional dress.

Organizers insist the runway shows aren't just for the fashion elite, but are also aimed at the general public. That, they say, is why the opening ceremony was held at Xintiandi, the city's trendiest gathering spot for the fashionable people.

As usual, the festival also provides business opportunities. A total of six trade fairs will be held in Pudong's New International Expo Center.

But the event will never make it big on the international map until a few more big-name designers start attending the event. "It is a pity that our designers are too busy to come to the festival," said Massimo Ferragamo, president of Ferragamo USA.

The photo shows that models featuring traditional Chinese dress strut their stuff at the opening of the Shanghai International Fashion Festival.

(eastday.com April 25, 2002)

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