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June 26, 2010

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Qipao to hippie chic

WORLD Expo serves as a perfect platform for countries to display their arts, culture, design and technology achievements. And the uniforms worn by pavilion staff display the fashion style and heritage of each country.

Designed by renowned fashion brands, established designers and fashion school students, the uniforms often incorporate elements that echo the themes, architecture styles and colors of the pavilions. Some of them also cleverly feature current fashion trends.


The Italy Pavilion staff's uniforms are arguably the most fashionable. If there's a "Best Uniform at the Expo" award, the first prize would probably go to the Italians. Designed by luxury fashion house Prada, the uniforms are casual with an elegant approach -- they are not only stylish but also playfully modern. The designer has created uniforms in faille and poplin stretch fabrics, in a palette of bright fuchsia and techno-feel steel gray. There is also the cute, label-tagged messenger bag made of Prada's signature nylon and the effortlessly chic and comfortable sneakers.


The garments and shoes worn by guides in the Sweden Pavilion are chosen from the Swedish fashion giant H&M's latest garden collection for this spring and summer. Romantic and exotic, the floral looks are inspired by green gardens, sun-drenched landscapes and 1970s hippie chic flower-power. Every piece of the Garden collection is produced using sustainable materials, recycled PET bottles or textile waste.

"The garments are chosen to be both attractive and at the same time comfortable to wear in Shanghai's warm climate," says Anne-Sofie Johansson, head of design at H&M.


Uniforms for volunteer guides and team leaders are designed by the country's leading retailer Marks & Spencer. The T-shirts, trousers and skirts are designed in a traditional British fashion style, in a palette of neutral tones. Marks & Spencer, which will open its second store in Shanghai's Yuyuan Garden by the end of the month, is also developing a line of UK Pavilion-related clothing that will be sold in its Shanghai stores.


Spanish designer Jose Miro won the Spain Pavilion uniform competition organized by the Spain Society for International Exhibitions and the Association of Fashion Design of Spain. His designs combine sustainability and avant-garde looks with organic materials and natural dyes.

Born in Mallorca and trained in Barcelona, Miro began his professional career in Paris. In Spain, he has worked for Agatha Ruiz de la Prada and set up his own company in 2001. He has presented his collections in competitions in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris and London.


Students from the Raffles Design Institute Shanghai spent nine months creating uniforms for staff of the Shanghai Pavilion. The uniforms complement the pavilion theme "Forever Xintiandi" and the shikumen (stone-gate) architecture. Shikumen is an Eastern/Western fusion style of houses once prevailing in the city early last century. Today, the shikumen-style buildings can still be found in Xintiandi, one of the city's most popular tourist spots.

The collection features a distinctive East-meets-West style. There are Chinese qipao-inspired executive dresses and tailored suits crafted in Western silhouettes. Details include hand embroideries and matching accessories such as wristbands and scarves.


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