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CHIAROSCURO: I went to Tibet to pray for money and...

April 30, 2014

Finally have this travel-design photo story ready to share with you before April ends...I do feel a bit sad for seeing this chapter close, but I am more excited about the next journey/collection. See you on the road! :)

Itinerary: Chengdu-->Lhasa-->Shannan-->Nyingchi-->Chengdu

Tibet is a place in my heart for more than 15 years, and I finally went there in August 2013. They say it’s the holy city, the closest place to heaven that you should go with a pure mind.  I wasn’t able to do that though.  At that time, my mind was full of how to sell more bags, but I just wanted to go. A friend of mine joked that I went there to pray for money. I laughed hard and agreed. But there is something more...

6 months later, I created and presented the CHIAROSCURO FW14 collection. Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  What do you think? 

Left: A pilgrim, with only one leg, makes his way around the Jokhang Temple. Right: 850000 Chiaroscuro Power Clutch in black Italian vegetal washed lambskin and smooth calfskin.  

Left:  At Lu Lang village in Nyingchi, a local woman is harvesting hulless barley. Right: 860100 Chiaroscuro Weekend Tote in black Italian vegetal washed lambskin and smooth calfskin.  

860100 Nyingchi, Tibet As if to Celebrate, I Discovered a Mountain Blooming with Red Flowers, 1981, Anish Kapoor. When I am not designing handbags, I am an avid hiker. All friends thought I went to climb Mountain Everest, but the story was I couldn’t get a border pass because my Chinese ID was expired, so we headed to Nyingchi.

Nyingchi means “the throne of the sun” in Tibetan. Eyes of life. Lush forest, vast hulless barley filed, wild Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon. Yak bells singing, horses greeting outside the window, smoke dancing in the air. No phone calls, no Wi-Fi, the way I chose. In reality I met myself, over and over again, and that was the magic of wandering in Nyingchi. 

Left: A Tibetan monk at the Trandruk Monastery. Right: 10011 Medium Infinity Power Tote in burgundy Italian vegetal textured lambskin and navy buttery cow.

Left: The traditional Tibetan door (pattern and color combo). The Tibetan red symbols the fire, the wisdom of discernment, the life force and preservation. Right: 10018 Infinity Power Clutch in burgundy Italian pony calfskin and black nappa cow. 

Left: Tibetan prayer flags and sunshine, everywhere. The yellow color symbolizes the earth. Right: 850800 Chiaroscuro Power Tote in taupe Italian smooth calfskin. 

Left: A perfect harmony: a wild goat wandering at the Samye Monastery, the first Buddhist monastery to be founded in Tibet. Right: 850000 Chiaroscuro Power Clutch in black Italian vegetal washed lambskin and printed pony calfskin. 

Left: Traditional Tibetan house window in black/green. Green symbolizes water. Green is also the color of balance and harmony, which is what you can always find at home, isn't it? Right: 10014 Infinity Power Shoulder Bag in forest green Italian grained capra and black nappa cow.

Left: The painting on this door is also a traditional Tibetan pattern. And may the Tibetan Door Knot bring you lots of good fortune. Right: 10011 Medium Infinity Power Tote in navy Italian embossed pony calfskin and navy buttery cow. 

Left: The ceiling of our first hotel room at Pandatsang Compound in Lhasa. Right: 850000 Chiaroscuro Power Clutch in black Italian vegetal washed lambskin and blue Italian nappa lambskin.

850000 Lhasa, Tibet Lhasa is famous as a city of sunshine for its sunshine of more than 3,000 hours a year. It was August, sunshine and deepened colors—blue, green, yellow and red, everywhere. Lots of walking, and we just keep going, without any planning. The power of now. The power of simplicity. 

I did have a plan of developing another “fancy” pleats from the trip. After coming back to New York, tried and failed different designs, I asked myself again—what is it? I closed my eyes, sit still, letting the sunshine in, and breathe. The sunburst pleats.  

Left: Yumbulagang Palace, the first palace in Tibet history. It is a legendary palace built in the 2nd century for the first Tibetan king-Nyatri Tsenpo, who was said to have descended from the sky. Blue symbolizes the sky and space in Tibetan culture. Right: 10003 Infinity Power Tote in navy buttery cow.  

Left: Somewhere inside the Potala Palace, I saw the INFINITY pattern. Right: 10018 Infinity Power Clutch in forest green Italian grained capra.   

Left: by Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, on the way to Shannan. Right: 850800 Chiaroscuro Power Tote in black Italian cashmere calfskin and black buttery cow.    

850800 Shannan, Tibet “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” —Nelson Mandela

We decided to go visit the Samye Monastery, the first Buddhist monastery to be built in Tibet. Samye meaning unexpected building in Tibetan, and it turned out really a surprising experience. Boat, police car and private car. Warm hands, smiling faces and jumping hearts. Hello, thank you and goodbye. At the end, what I remember the most was those amazing people we met on the road. Just like the silver and gold zipper merged in the Chiaroscuro collection bags, beautifully and naturally. Samye! 

Left: The infinity love on the historical street of Lhasa. Right: 10038 Infinity Departure Tote in taupe Italian smooth calfskin.

Left: The lovely family in Nyingchi. Right: The Chiaroscuro collection family.

Special thanks to my dear parents and the lovely traveling companion, Cheer Zhang. Thank you for making this such a wonderful trip and your amazing contributions to this collection. “从八月的西藏路上到11月的纽约街头, 生命就是奇迹, 如果你愿意相信.” Cheer said.  

To travel, to create. See you on the road! 


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