By Nicole Lampa
As the sounds of the sitar and subtle beats of a drum and bass fill the shop, customers run their fingers over embroidered slippers, sheer scarves, beaded necklaces and floral or gold-printed sarongs. Those who aren’t aware of the latest fashion trends would think Le Chateau was becoming culturally sensitive.
In the last year, Eastern style has had a tremendous impact on the Western fashion industry. Last summer and fall, clothing stores across North America carried East Indian-inspired beaded jeans and silk tops adorned with Asian prints. Although trends change rapidly, the Eastern cultural influence has had tremendous staying power.
“Before we saw a lot of Chinese and Indian prints and colours. But now we’ve gone beyond that,” says Joelyn Jurianz, a third-year fashion marketing student and an assistant in Flare magazine’s art department. “We now look at Chinese cuts and their use of lines, simplicity and fabrics. We see a lot of layering that we got from India and now the sarong from India is big. We just Westernize all of it.”
East Indian-style pink and orange dresses and tops are part of Le Chateau’s current collection, “Shangri-La.”
“It;s something new, ethnic and exciting,” says Don Gosley, store manager of Le Chateau on Yonge Street near Dundas Street. “The colours and materials are new. Fashion is not just black and white any more—it’s more colourful and bright.”
While Asian culture has shared centre-stage in the fashion industry for the past season or two designers and marketers seem to be moving to their next exotic destination.
Hitting the runways, according to Jurianz, are items strongly influenced by Moroccan and Egyptian cultures.
“We are definitely going to see longer earrings, scarves, long skirts and backless tank tops,” she says. “And the colours are pink, yellow and green, like spring colours from our gardens.”
This cultural impact on Western fashion may be seen as another indication of fashion go-getters can easily check the Internet to see what the latest trends are on the other side of the world.
“It gets boring to look at your own country and own culture for inspiration,” Jurianz says. “We constantly need to be stimulated.”
Gosley is thrilled about the fashion industry’s cultural exploration. “It’s something new to look at,” he says. “Everyone can wear it.”