Chinese Fashion Designer in Italy
A native of Zhejiang, Xu Yuejuan arrived in Milan, Italy in 1990 and firmly established herself as a fashion designer there in Milan, Italy by staging her first fashion in 1995 and launching the Italian fashion brand DELVES-JK.
She is the first Chinese national admitted into the Milan Fashion Club. Her business designs and makes upscale custom-made cloths for high-end clients including the ex-president Clinton of the USA and some Italian government officials. She displayed her brand on behalf of the Italian government at Shanghai World Expo in 2010. Her upscale clothing operation is wholly manually tailored. The custom-made clothes are characterized by, among other things, deluxe fabrics and greatest attention to smallest details.
Two years ago I met Xu Yuejuan in Venice and had a long talk with her. She operates a studio in Milan but she spends most of her time in Bologna where she enjoys serenity and seeks inspiration.
She wanted to be a fashion designer when she was a young teenager learning to be a Yueju Opera artist. “The softness and ethereality of the long sleeves of the costumes really fascinated me,” she recalls. She fell in love with these costumes in the ancient style. She started learning about fashion design. Aware that design was only part of the fashion, she wanted to learn the practical part of the fashion. That is, she also wanted to be a tailor who could turn all beautiful design ideas into real things. So while her classmates amused themselves with Japanese animation films on television in their spare time, she visited tailor shops in Wenzhou to see if these tailors would accept her volunteer work for free. All the practical expertise she learned at these tailor shops helped her in Italy.
After her arrival in Milan, she had difficulties in finding a designer’s job. As the language was a problem, at first she could only deal with Chinese customers. Then accidentally an Italian fashion design business spotted her talent and employed her. It wouldn’t be easy for her to be recognized in Milan where top designers gravitate. She worked hard. And her 1995 solo fashion show was a huge success, putting her name on the map of Milan. The day after her fashion show, she married Donati Delves, an Italian engaged in fashion business. The husband adores and admires Xu for her hard work and ambition.
Xu’s design integrates the elegance of the East and the West. Her brand has been discussed alongside with famed brands such as LOUIS VUITTON, ARMANI, and DIOR in RENDEZ-VOUS, a French fashion magazine.
As China is bing increasingly important in business, Xu has increasingly added Chinese elements into her design. She makes a difference in the fashion business that defines Milan. As a matter of fact, the Chinese businessmunity in Italy has a population of 400,000, with a great number of them engaged in two business realms. The business people from Zhejiang play a key role in a trade center in Rome and in the garment industry in Prato. In the talk I had with her two years ago, she predicted that Chinese fashion designers would be increasingly prominent in the European fashion industry. She is one of these Zhejiang businesspeople who have helped reshape industrial Italy.
Xu Yuejuan has won professional awards and she has exhibited her brand in China. In February, her daughter Jessica and her son Kevin launched their brand JeKe in a fashion show held in Milan. Both the daughter and the son are now fashion designers, carrying on her mission started in the 1990s.