So TI is cruising through Shang Xia's Shanghai shop with his "fashion indifference" shield up full tilt. This young salesman comes over and says softly "A visit to Shang Xia is incomplete until you experience this...Would you mind holding out both hands please?" He then lowers into my palm a porcelain bowl so light and fragile and translucent , I find myself laughing with delight. He then raises the bowl and pings it with his finger-tip to let a gentle hum vibrate throughout the porcelain. I turn into a 6 year old.
Such are the hidden delights of what just might be the most subtle brand in all of fashion right now. The year old label led by artistic director Jiang Qiong Er , is a collaboration with luxury brand Hermes and the fusion of historically grounded Chinese craftsmanship with Hermes' legendary quality control makes for a retail idea so compelling I can't stop thinking about it. Everything... the wooden flooring , the diffused lighting, the incredibly informed sales staff, the beige/white/tan color scheme, the judicious architectural work of Japanese master Kengo Kuma who has wrapped the space in a cloud of "memory-shaped" white fabric, makes for a framework of taste and restraint that belies the presumption that home-grown Chinese" luxury" has any need to be blatant. Shang Xia is a retail excursion so refined and respectful that a visit here is closer to pilgrimage than anything else. I'll be back, particularly for that eggshell porcelain bowl!