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Expo of fashions, diamonds, crystals

COLLABORATION between fashion and arts is becoming common these days. However, watching a modern dance performance featuring costumes by some of the most avant-garde fashion designers was still quite an experience.

Created by renowned Chinese dance artist Jin Xing, the show was staged in the Central Hall at the World Expo site as part of the celebration of the Sweden Pavilion Day on May 23.

Fifteen dancers displayed more than 50 items of apparel by five Sweden-based fashion designers - Sandra Backlund, Martin Bergstrom, Diana Orving, Nakkna and Goran Sundberg.

"Dancers are not models but they give the clothes a 'life'," Jin says. "Their moves and turnarounds are perfectly blended with all these designer pieces, making the performance a constantly moving fashion show."

According to Jin, all the costumes represent the innovative spirit of Swedish fashion. "I think the Swedish fashion has come to an age of reflection, a fact that is vividly depicted in my show," she says.

Most of the clothes feature a neutral palette of earth tones. Some are simply all black. Baclund's proportional knitwear has a special three-dimensional effect - it was probably the first time dancers performed in such heavy costumes.

All in black, the pieces by Nakkna, on the other hand, were lightweight, youthful, suited for androgynous dressing and more practical for daily wear.

Among the five designers, Jin likes Bergstrom the most. "His works remind me of the early works of Jean Paul Gautier," she explains. "They 'dangerously' challenge people's ultimate imagination, which also became a great source of inspiration for me."

Fashion is an integrated part of the Italy Pavilion, where a recent fashion show featured haute couture gowns by emerging Italian designer Anton Giulio Grande and jewelry by eight traditional goldsmiths from the Calabria region.

On his first visit to China, Grande has brought to Shanghai sensational, aggressive evening gowns lavishly embroidered with gems and laces, in white, black and red. He claims that all his products are completed by hand and even sewing machines are prohibited in his studio.

The jewelry collections are a wise mixture of raw materials, such as ceramic and stone, and precious stones, such as rubies, emeralds, and gold and silver.

"It's not about showcasing 'super luxury' but the traditions of Italians," comments Ernesto Miraglia, curator of the Italy Pavilion. "The Italian lifestyle has always held fascination for Chinese people, and through events like this we'd like to showcase the best of our best.

"Of course, not everyone could afford to drive Ferrari or wear Prada, whether in China or in Italy," he adds, "however, hopefully, by getting in touch with these high-end products at the Italy Pavilion, people will get the idea of what luxury is - and what is the best."

Jewelers from Czech and Belgium have also brought their best works to the Shanghai World Expo.

Preciosa, one of the world's leading manufacturers of crystal beads and pendants, recently held a presentation in the Czech Pavilion. Dating back to 1376, Preciosa is known as the producer of the world's first Maria Theresa chandelier.

Martin Dvorak and Zuzana Sihanova, champions of the Czech Republic in standard dances for 2010, performed a dazzling show in glittering costumes decorated with Preciosa stones. Their performance was followed by a mini fashion show displaying the brand's latest cut-crystal jewelry collection.

The Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC) held the Antwerp Diamond Day in the Belgium Pavilion yesterday. It was the first theme event of the four-day Antwerp Week, which ends on Thursday.

Antwerp is known as the heart of the world's diamond industry and AWDC contains 1,500 diamond companies and four diamond bourses.

To celebrate, the renowned ECC diamond racket trophy, featuring 1,600 diamonds of 150 carats, was flown in Shanghai to be displayed at the Diamond Exhibition Corner in the Belgium Pavilion, together with 10 antique jewelry pieces from the Diamond Museum of Antwerp, as well as selected winning works of the HRD Awards 2009.

The exhibition also features "Lesotho Promise," the 15th-largest stone ever found (603 carats), which was once auctioned in Antwerp for US$12.4 million.

"Diamonds Love Antwerp," an agreement signed between AWDC and Shanghai Diamond Exchange at the event, aims to promote Antwerp diamonds in China and help develop China's diamond industry in a healthy, sustainable way.


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