The first Sands Macao Fashion Week (SMFW) launched with a collection of the leading luxury and lifestyle brands alongside up-and-coming local fashion talents, an impressive start for this promising new entry onto the fashion landscape.
The six-day event was held between 19 – 24 October at the Venetian Macao and the Parisian. Sands China Ltd partnered with Italian luxury lifestyle company La Perla, best known for their up-scale silk lingerie, to showcase their Spring/Summer 2018 ready-to-wear collection at an exclusive gala dinner on the first night.
The sit-down runway dinner drew around 120 celebrities and fashion elite from around the world to the Venetian Macao. The darkened lobby, with its colourful backdrops and intimate candlelit runway, offered a mesmerizing kick-off to the SMFW – with supermodels Natasha Poly and Liu Wen walking the runway for La Perla.
The fashion shows highlighted other brands including Karen Millen, Miss Sixty, Weekend by Max Mara, and many more – all brands on offer in the hotels’ shops. The runway shows gave thousands of prospective shoppers a closer look at the latest fashions trends, available to purchase only a few metres away.
Spotlight on local talent
Sands China, in line with its ongoing support for the city’s cultural and creative industries, collaborated with the Macau Productivity and Technology Transfer Center (CPPTM) to highlight Macao’s emerging local fashion industry. Eight brands – including Alexis Jordan, Jade.L, La Mode Désir, NB NU BIANO, and ella épeler – presented more than 50 looks with each brand showcasing five pieces from their collection, during the closing runway show at the Venetian.
Ella Lei, founder of ella épeler, chose to exhibit the second collection of her brand, which took around six months to complete. Lei viewed SMFW, with its well-known brands and attention from major fashion publications, as offering far greater exposure for her brand than her participation in other fashion festivals.
The Parisian also hosted exhibitions of five local designers as part of the CPTTM Fashion Incubation Programme, which focuses on the “Design in Macao” concept. Shuen Ka Hung, director-general of CPTTM, explained:
“[Macao Fashion Week] not only serves as a platform for local fashion designers to showcase their work, but also helps foreign visitors deepen their understanding of local fashion brands and designs.”
The three-day runway portion of SMFW, 19–21 October, saw about eight shows a day, including the Walk on Water shows, a series of four runway events that took place on the Grand Canal itself.
The crystal acrylic runway zigzagged across the waterway around the Venetian, winding past towering waterfalls constructed specially for the show. Bright lighting and clear, minimalist materials combined to great effect, glittering brilliantly as onlookers snapped photographs from the Piazza San Marco.
David Sylvester, executive vice-president of Global Retail for Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS), considered the Walk on Water runway the most technically challenging aspect of the entire week. “It had to be a sound structure for the models to walk on and yet at the same time not damage the canal infrastructure.”
Speaking to the catwalk models behind the scenes of the shows: Chen Lin and Jason Wu from Primo Model Management both said “You rarely get the chance to “walk on water” – it was an incredibly special walk.”
Fashion destination in the making
Sands China began the process of organising the event this year with support from the Macao Government Tourism Office. “The planning of it took around six months from sourcing an event company to producing the overall concept, and sourcing an international brand to partner with for the gala event,” Sylvester explained.
Bringing the fashion week concept to Macao serves two purposes: driving retail sales by generating awareness and interest for LVS, and supporting Macao’s vision to becoming a leading tourism destination in the world.
Looking toward possible future editions, Sylvester said they are “currently reviewing the event and hope to make [SMFW] an annual event on the world’s fashion calendar.” There is certainly appetite for more. In a time where both the government and gaming operators are eager to diversify their offerings, Macao Fashion Week brings new-found glamour and shine to the city.