Chinese heiress, patron of the arts and philanthropist Wendy Yu is a fashion powerhouse presiding over a $20m style portfolio, who has become an unofficial ambassador for British and European design in east Asia, while promoting its homegrown talent to the world. Hence, Yu’s latest collaboration should pique the interest of any aesthete, as she joins forces with French brand Olympia Le-Tan to produce a limited edition collection of evening bags.
The collaboration has resulted in nine clutch-style designs (priced from €990 to €1,715), inspired by the vibrancy of the Chinese New Year celebrations and the arts scene of 1920s and 1930s Shanghai, while referencing the hand-embroidered “book box”-style bags that have become a Le-Tan signature – Yu is already a keen collector.
The collection is joyously colourful and inventive. Four of the designs evoke cover illustrations from some of China’s best-known books: from a 1929 illustration of the 18th-century novel Dream of the Red Chamber – one of the country’s Four Great Classical Novels – which sets an art deco figure on a traditional background, to a 1920s cover of The Great Love, conjuring an aesthetic that is surprisingly contemporary. Four further designs reference vintage illustrations inspired by symbols of the Chinese New Year – candies, firecrackers, matches and zodiac animals – while the remaining clutch ticks the philanthropic box (10 percent of the proceeds from its sale will go to Yu’s art fund for the charity Teach for China, which helps children in rural China develop their creative skills).
Only 16 of each design will be produced – embroidered on the reverse with a number and lined in a complementary print. The bags, produced in Paris, take up to 300 hours to make, while the final finishing and brass hardware is completed in Italy. The collection is available at The Shop at Bluebird and Net-A-Porter.