Now the autumn looks are in the shops, time to look back on what made it big in fashion in the summer of '12.
It was a season of the bold, the new and the beautiful - especially here. As this collection shows, China's trendsetters proved that after 50 years of wearing Mao suits they have taken their rightful places at the banquet of global style. And their seats are located right on the cutting edge!
|It's called the "belly out" look.|
Not only does it look great, it
keeps the wearer cool, like this
outdoor worker who I'm sure was
one of the Village People.
|It's good for business meetings ...|
|... for hanging out with friends, who may be rappers ...|
|The bonus is it lets you cool down while|
not looking anywhere near as vulgar
as taking your shirt off.
|Choices to suit your mood:|
Today I feel like one nipple!
|As this man shows, being asleep is no excuse for|
not being fashionable.
|"Belly out" is even better when feeling the|
breeze on your bike. This man had just
one comment for us: "Weeeeeeee!"
|Warning: Only the brave can pull this off ...|
|... or those with guts. The old fashion rule|
says the belly maketh the man. Or, the
larger the stomach, the more prosperous
the fellow. Man boobs come into it, too,
by way of keeping your shirt up longer.
|This variation is for more formal|
nights, when the dress
code says Fabulous!
|My enduring image of China won't be the Forbidden|
City, the Great Wall, or glitzy high rise buildings. It
will be something like this. It really should be an
|This fashion forward gent has gone for the|
complete ensemble - stomach and nipples
set off wonderfully by a pink umbrella.
Total cost: (gasp!) $4.99!
|The great thing about China is that this girl doesn't at|
all feel weirded out.
"Belly out" aficionados are actually proving worthy wearers of the title Fashion Victims. For this is indeed the style the authorities tried to ban! Leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China's government called on locals to not roll their shirts up while the city was on show to the world, fearing for some reason that they might be laughed at and called "unsophisticated yokels" or something. Fans of the look carried on undeterred. Rallies were organised mirroring the "Slutwalks" now common in the west. Protesters insisted wearing such clothing was not a sign that they were asking to be ridiculed, adopting as their anthem The Smiths' 1987 hit Shirtlifters of the World.
What else made waves in 2012?
Did somebody say "Face-kini?"
Oh yes they did.
|As Mao Zedong said: "Let a hundred flowers blossom!"|
In 2012, a trip to the beach in China was like a trip into a
world of colour. And a bit like a trip into an IRA action.
Or a hospital burns unit.
|For yes, it was time for the Face-kini. Want to go to the|
beach? Don't want to get a tan? Or not on your head at
least? Simply pull on these sporty balaclavas and -
hey presto - you too can look like a complete
|His and Hers: A look to warm designers' hearts|
everywhere, if not at Victoria's Secret then
at least in Victorian England.
|Mums and Bubs - balaclavas and floaties. These photos|
were taken at Qingdao No.1 Beach, which proves that
even beaches get names like that in China.
|Heaven knows what kind of tan lines will come from this.|
But it's good to see that even at what appears to be senior
citizen years, Chinese people will still, with little regard
for other people's opinions, make the peace sign in photos.
|Two more women on the beach at Qingdao.|
Miss Blue is still able to effect the expression of surprise.
Unless it's just the outer covering that does that,
like actors on botox.
The look soon caught on around the world, such as with this woman in Vigo, Spain ...
|... with these two in Moscow ...|
|... and these guys with matching khakis,|
hanging out in Belfast.
|The Face-kini also took off in the world of sport, including|
|... Formula 1, and horse racing.|
|Here is a photo I found online|
advertising a disposable
balaclava. Just why anyone
would want one, I'm not sure.
|And here, from Canada, comes the balaclava-pour-deux:|
"For the girl who really doesn't want to kiss you".
This was, again, the look the fashion police tried to ban. As the New York Times reported, the beach balaclavas were hatched at the city of Qingdao by an entrepreneur seeking to cash in on the desire of many Chinese people to get to the beach but not get tanned. White skin is highly prized by many here as a sign of good breeding. The alternative, dark skin, implies that you or your ancestors had to toil outside - perhaps even on a farm! "A woman should always have fair skin. Otherwise people will think you're a peasant," said a woman who identified herself as Yao Wenhua, 58. We'll have to take her word for it, as she was wearing a balaclava at the time.
After pictures of the gear triggered much mockery on the internet in China, city officials in Qingdao promptly announced a ban on sales. Some shop owners said they were told this was because of concerns about "quality control". One said he supposed the city didn't want people to buy one and then go rob a bank, which sounds completely feasible. Still, beachgoers are fighting for their right to cover up.
It's funny. This correspondent remembers when people in Australia used to campaign to be allowed to wear less at the beach.
* Tune in again next week fashionistas for our next update on trends in the Middle Kingdom: "Getting Round in your Jammies"!
* And tune in this Thursday for more tales from The Tiger Father Does America.
* And for real website about fashion in Beijing, try http://fearless-in-beijing.com