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Traditional modernity – LFWM AW20 PRONOUNCE

Humans are complex beings shaped by society. At times we are giving, at times we are selfish. At times we are humble, at times we are lustful. Inside us lives both good and bad, making human lives dreadfully unpredictable.

Yushan Li and Jun Zhou, founders of PRONOUNCE, express this complexity through their AW20 collection. Based in Shanghai and Milan, Li and Zhou were inspired by the renown Chinese classic novel Water Margin, also known as Shui Hu Zuan – a story of 108 Song dynasty heroes. The novel explores humanly desires among other aspects of human nature and is considered relevant to this day.

Photos: PRONOUNCE Press

The collection ‘To the Mountains’ is filled with delightful homages to Water Margin and historically Chinese garments. The jade and chain accessories adorning the wrists and waists of the models were meticulously designed to represent weapons of the heroes in the Chinese classic. The colours red and purple are often used to colour block the neutral. In China, though, these colours represent luck and immortality, and they are prized in traditional culture. Li and Zhou’s collection encompasses the entirety of Chinese history, from the ancient to the modern. A nod towards the cheongsam can be seen, with brightly patterned silk shirts, skirts, and pants flowing down the runway. The iconic Mao suit also makes an appearance through tightly buttoned collars and washed out grey and beige jackets. The leather shoes were individually hand-crafted by Shanghai craftsmen for this remarkable collection.

Photos: PRONOUNCE Press

Similarly to how yin and yang form a balance, the Chinese elements of the collection juxtapose with inherently western silhouettes and patterns.

One look consists of an oversized denim two piece – denim being a traditionally western material loved by workers due to its resilience. Together with the bright green, skintight, silk turtleneck, the strikingly red leather shoes contrast with the dark, multipocketed jacket and pants. Leather makes a frequent appearance, taking the audience back to cold European winters. It is also impossible not to think about a cold, maple leafed autumn with the use of checked patterns.

The inherent ode to tradition contrasts with Li and Zhou’s usage of modern silhouettes. The oversized coat is one such example. Enlarged collars and wide power shoulders are not uncommon on the streets of any busy cosmopolitan city. Combining obscure colours and patterns with the classic blazer, shirt, trouser combo, PRONOUNCE adds their own casual twist to an otherwise drab nine to five outfit.

Photos: PRONOUNCE Press

Functionality is valued in PRONOUNCE’s AW20 collection. Although extremely decorative, the oversized outerwear and loose pants are perfect to wear in everyday life. From a glossy quilted coat to a giant buttoned, sleeveless jacket, Li and Zhou’s collection is liberating and distinctive.

Li graduated from Central Saint Martin’s MA Fashion program while Zhou is an alumni of Instituto Marangoni and the London College of Fashion MA Menswear. Both graduated in 2015. Despite Zhou specializing in menswear, PRONOUNCE is a ‘gender sharing’ brand – they produce designs accommodating everyone.

Their forty-one designs released at London Fashion Week Men’s on the 4th January 2020 is not the last of Li and Zhou’s creations this season. PRONOUNCE will disclose their special collaboration with DIESEL, a clothing company specializing in jeans and denim. This 18-piece collection, some of which was released during this AW20 catwalk, will be released at Shanghai fashion Week (26th March – 2 April 2020).

Li and Zhou’s ‘To the Mountains’ collection presents countless juxtapositions, ranging from the traditional and the modern, the eastern and the western and the practical to the embellished. This conglomeration of ideas somewhat resembles the key feature of human nature as outlined in Shi Nai’an’s Water Margin – humans are complex beings filled with contradicting values.

Edited by Alexia McDonald, Head Digital Editor

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