Designer Shangguan Zhe this season pays tribute to some of the visual aspects of American culture, working his reality-versus-fantasy vision to raise questions around the growingly dominant virtual lens through which our world is perceived. Key influences include the powerful portraits of Richard Avedon’s iconic tome, “In the American West” mixed with the aesthetics of the Coen Brothers movies and the “Red Dead Redemption 2” video game.
Zhe deftly evolves his sartorial commentary on modern society with a highly detailed Spring-Summer 2020 collection that combines western cultural references, cinematic homages and whimsical flourishes, creating unique reformulations of the season’s prominent American folklore theme. Supported by a strong and directional street casting, the designer treads the balance between “tongue in cheek” eccentric takes on Western cowboy costumes and the brand’s signature, more classic, streetwear and military-inspired engineered pieces. Sprayed colored graffiti, art-inspired prints and glitzy logo embellishments such as Swarovski crystal embroideries and brightly colored motifs are liberally showered on an exhilarating parade of looks evoking Las Vegas Cowboys as well as cops and gangsters straight out of “Mean Streets”. A sense of stage costume pervades the all-over spray paint graffiti printed on fluid satin shirts and matching jackets with peak collars, or on shirts with long red fringes running down their fronts and arms. Hitting on cinematographic homages, 70s tailored suits with flared pants have the dark romance of the pimp protagonist of an American movie and even flirt with a feminine side when cut in a pale pink satin with gathered fabric panels cascading down the sleeves. In the same vein some of the leopard motif jacquard tuxedo or denim jackets are sometimes paired with fun short shorts for men.
Variations on the Sankuanz logo draw intriguing similarities with the motifs from traditional cowboy gear, surfacing on Western-style shirts and suits or on heavily washed and destroyed denim pants and jersey t-shirts. A worn patina surfaces on the cloudy colored satin bomber jackets worn with matching zipped shorts or on the bleached effects of jersey turtlenecks and tops. Playing on proportions, shrunken knit sweaters sport naïve Cassidy cartoon characters on their fronts, as if nabbed from a kid’s wardrobe. More grounded are the signature contemporary streetwear styles, conceived as reversible layered looks such as a hooded cotton jacket attached to a tartan short-sleeved shirt or bomber jackets that can be flipped inside out. Denim pieces come in raw or black finishes, sometimes embellished with metallic industrial studs tracing the contours of their patterns. Flashing from the rather somber color palette, are daring shots of bright green, sharp lime and bold purple shades that pop on the suede cowboy-chap constructions of denim pants or on the boxy shape of the military bomber for men, and cropped suede jacket for women.
Introduced for the first time on the runway last season, women’s looks follow the 70s silhouettes with impeccably tailored jackets paired with flared pants or sexy shirts and worn with Sankuanz’s signature threatening industrial jewelry. Completing this expansive collection is the Sankuanz footwear ranging from sporty technical sneakers and signature chunky soled “shoe for shoe” sandals on one side to black leather cowboy boot styles, working on the same duality of inspirations. Sankuanz this season also introduces a new collaboration with American shoe brand Timberland, based on updates of their signature 6-inch Boot, designed with an hi-tech injected colored plastic details and made in pale leather versions.