MILAN - China-born fashion designer Uma Wang made her debut on Milan's catwalks on Monday with an austere collection inspired by raw nature and spirituality.
Wang, who studied in Shanghai and London, is seen as an up-and-coming designer to watch and part of a new generation of Chinese designers and brands coming to produce in Italy.
"The buyers are in Milan, the factories are in Milan. There's no reason to be anywhere else!" Wang told AFP backstage before the start of the catwalk show.
She showed off her collection in the Hall of the Caryatids of Milan's Royal Palace, which was partly destroyed by bombing during the Second World War.
The colours were muted - ivory white, beige, black and mossy green - and the materials had a sackcloth quality that made the models look like novices in a mediaeval convent or shipwreck survivors.
"I was inspired by the elements. All the elements together. Seascapes and landscapes," Wang said, as she fixed the dresses on the models ahead of the show.
She explained that the inspiration came from the Galician coast in Spain and the sound of church bells pealing during the show marked "the end of a pilgrimage".
Wang studied at China Textile University and Central St Martin's in London, then worked for Chinese labels for 10 years before setting up her own brand in 2005.
Even as some top Italian brands shift production and sales to fast-growing emerging markets, Chinese designers and brands are starting to produce in Italy.