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Suzy Menkes reports on designers proud to portray their national heritage in their clothes, including Huishan Zhang, Rahul Mishra, Leonard and Manish Arora.

Draped Indian saris, silken Mao jackets, and kimono coats used to be the preserve of old-style Parisian couturiers searching for a theme of the season.

But I am inspired by the idea that in this interconnected world, fine designers are emerging from across the globe. They yearn to show in Paris for the consecration of their dreams, but their strength is in the workmanship that they find in their home countries.

I have selected four designers whose influences derive from their homeland and whose design talents are open to the world.

Huishan Zhang

I had two opportunities to see Huishan Zhang’s work – and it only grew in importance the second time around.

I caught the end of the show presented in London as an English tea party. I was late, so I saw only the delicately embellished, after-dark dresses of a designer who has been travelling between his native Qingdao, China and the UK, where he studied at Central Saint Martin’s. He also did a stint working with Dior Haute Couture.

Rahul Mishra

It was the penultimate collection on the final day of the four-week marathon. But fashion can always come up with good karma. And Rahul Mishra’s collection touched me.

Here was what the designer called a “Ferryman’s Tale” as he recounted in streamlined but intensely decorated clothes a design journey to Japan and the inspiration of that country’s traditional artworks,  then back to his native India through multiple villages wherecraftsmen worked on hand embellishment. Then the final clothes winged their way across the world to land in stores from Paris to New York.

Leonard

Leonard is a French company known for flower prints, delicate and majestic. The orchid is its signature.

The house is marking 50 years of creativity with a celebration planned for Tokyo – one of several Asian countries where Leonard has a major following.

Daniel Tribouillard, who heads this family brand, has hired a variety of talents, but recently he decided to take on Yiqing Yin – a Chinese-born but Paris-raised designer who lives and built her fashion business in Paris.

Manish Arora

I have seen magnificent collections from Manish Arora both in his native India and in Paris.

I can conjure up the wild, theatrical, dizzyingly patterned, printed, and decorated creations from a designer for whom too much was never enough.

I also remember some of his India/Europe collaborations. In fact, I think he was the first designer to go crazy with colours and patterns on sneakers. It must have been soon after the turn of the millennium that I saw on a trip to Mumbai his Fish Fry Sportswear collaboration with Reebok, which was way ahead of the great footwear trend of the moment.

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