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Beyond the Bale : March 2018
Lu Yan is certainly about humble beginnings. Growing up in a in a small mining village in Jiangxi Province, China, it was a chance encounter with a talent scout at a hotel lobby in Beijing at the age of 18 that saw her whisked off to Paris to pursue a career in modelling. Fashion magazine covers and runway appearances rained in during the next 15 years, and the once ‘unconventional beauty’ became China’s first supermodel. Returning to China and noticing a gap in the market, Lu Yan started her own fashion label in 2013, and COMME MOI was born. Starting with one collection comprising just 10 pieces, the label – known for it its well-tailored and high-quality fabrics – quickly garnered a strong following and its second collection grew to 30 pieces and was stocked in Hong Kong’s high-end retailer Lane Crawford. Meeting with AWI’s subsidiary The Woolmark Company in 2015, Lu Yan quickly became engrossed with the world of wool and the following year a partnership was announced between COMME MOI and The Woolmark Company, with the label releasing a wool-rich Autumn/Winer ‘China Rouge’ collection. In 2017, COMME MOI returned to Merino wool, this time producing a collection using trans-seasonal Cool Wool fabrics. Lu Yan visited Australia in February to launch the Cool Wool collection in Australia, at the Sydney boutique Parlour X. “I am grateful to Parlour X and The Woolmark Company for being the bridge between COMME MOI and Australian consumers,” said Lu Yan. “Merino wool’s high quality, softness and versatility works perfectly with my designs, ensuring excellent tailoring and making them inherently comfortable to wear.” China, in recent years, has fast become a large consumer of luxury goods. Once a manufacturing hub, the rise of middle income earners has seen a demand for high-end products, such as those made from Merino wool, which is great news for the Australian wool industry. “Lu Yan’s design philosophy highlights the importance of natural fibres and quality details, setting trends for the new generation of fashion-savvy consumers in China,” explained AWI China Country Manager, Jeff Ma. “From being China’s first supermodel to the founder of COMME MOI, Lu Yan continues to express her unique style through innovative thinking and design.” BACK TO THE SOURCE While in Australia, Lu Yan also took the opportunity to visit a wool-growing property – ‘Bloomfield Station’ near Yass in NSW – to see the source of Merino wool and gain first- hand experience of life on the land. The visit coincided with an on-farm photoshoot for the Travel edition of leading Chinese publication T Magazine, which will see Lu Yan on the magazine’s cover for the June edition. “This is the first time I have visited a wool farm,” she said. “It’s so big; the landscape, the view, it’s fantastic. I have even more respect for the woolgrowers after seeing the sheep, the shearing process and the long, difficult process in producing wool.” Bloomfield Station property manager Matt Crozier said opportunities such as hosting international designers were wonderful for promoting the Australian wool industry worldwide. “It’s been great to host Lu Yan; she’s obviously a very famous person in China – both as a model and a designer. She’s a great influencer in promoting wool all around the world,” he said. “I know she thinks it’s a wonderful fibre and, in the past, has worked with The Woolmark Company. We’re really excited she has chosen to use a considerable amount of wool in her range.” One of China’s most successful designer labels COMME MOI is telling the farm to fashion story to a new generation of Chinese consumers. A FIBRE FOR A NEW CHINESE GENERATION AWI General Manager Eastern Hemisphere, John Roberts, said that delegations like this one are extremely important for marketing wool. “To see it come from a sheep’s back, to smell a shearing shed, to see the properties and the work and the devotion that’s put into it – that level of provenance, that story really creates a romance with the industry and really enhances our ability to market the product,” John said. MORE INFORMATION Hear more from Lu Yan's visit to the farm in Episode 28 of AWI’s The Yarn podcast at www.wool.com/podcast Customers queuing up to try on items from the COMME MOI Cool Wool collection at the collection’s launch in Australia last month. Chinese fashion designer Lu Yan, of COMME MOI, at Bloomfield Station neat Yass, learning about the source of Australian Merino wool – a fibre which has been used in the label’s past two collections. Pictured are AWI General Manager Eastern Hemisphere, John Roberts; designer Lu Yan; property owner Alasdair MacLeod and property manager Matt Crozier. OFF FARM 25
In the Shops - March 2018