Global Media Report: [em]Oggi[/em] Magazine Turns Five

BEIJING — Oggi, a Japanese fashion magazine with a Chinese edition, held a fifth anniversary celebration the night of Nov. 10, at the Rui Fu nightclub. At first glance, it appeared that Rui Fu had closed and been replaced by another nightclub–a routine thing to happen in Beijing, with or without bulldozers involved–and that the new nightclub was called Oggi. There were lit-up signs that said “Oggi” and an “Oggi” backdrop in front of which arrivals were required to pause, standing on footprint markings, for photographs before entering. In the vestibule was a gigantic bowl that said “Oggi” again.
But inside, the club was still Rui Fu, though a narrow tan carpet with the Oggi logo on it snaked the length of the room, making right turns to get around the bar. A spur of the carpet led to the vestibule and the stairs. The main event of the evening was a fashion show by the Beijing label Zemo Elysee, for which the tan carpet would be the runway.

Zemo Elysee is run by Elysee Yang, who studied in Paris and who runs a small shop in a lane off the Sanlitun bar street, a nightlife strip popular with expatriates. Further back on the lane are an Argentine restaurant and a tapas restaurant.
Upstairs at Rui Fu, Yang and her models were getting their hair done. Someone had brought a large sack of Big Macs. Downstairs, roving waiters–young white men in shirtsleeves, smiling ironically–poured champagne. Lowball glasses of Bailey’s Irish Cream, an event sponsor, were lined up on the bar.
Giant projected images of Oggi covers played on the bare east wall. Oggi reads from back to front, or right to left–at any rate, the binding is on the right-hand side, as the magazine faces you. The November issue includes a pictorial of women as the perfect or consummate embodiments of five occupations: CEO (Audi, pale trenchcoat, fur bag), secretary (dark tweed thigh-top miniskirt suit), fashion editor (ruffled pink-and-white skirt), PR (sheer black dress over opaque black dress), and consultant (white-gold Cartier watch). It also includes a profile of a Jack Russell terrier named Faye.
A children’s choir gathered at the first bend in the runway and began to sing. The boys wore red bowties and the girls were in white dresses, like Degas dancers. A plump boy with rosy cheeks, standing on the end, sang with particular earnestness. The tiniest of the girls was in front of him.
Plates of sushi came in, from the patio. There was a sushi buffet out there, and steam trays of grilled Japanese things, and a table of desserts. Each slice of cake was individually cradled in cellophane, covering the cut parts.
Then, after a hasty and incomplete clearing of the runway: the models. The models were model-shaped and model-sized, verging on six feet tall. The hair and makeup had been done by a visiting Japanese stylist, The results left the models looking a bit sooty and stern, as if they had been setting off demolition charges to level an unwanted and unattractive building.
Yang stood half out of view in the vestibule, directing model-traffic. Stragglers from the buffet tried to sneak in during the pauses between models, ducking and scuttling down the runway carpet.
Zemo Elysee’s clothes were well tailored, with asymmetric touches to the shaping: an extra-long bit on one side of a skirt or a jacket. The fabrics were variously reversed against themselves or crumple-pleated or burned out. A model shrugged off her jacket and it peeled downward and inside-out to become an overskirt. The clothes are popular with the Japanese in France, less so with the Japanese in China.
A dress in brilliant green finished the show. There was applause. A pianist played “Happy Birthday” and the actress-singer Chen Hao cut a birthday cake with Oggi‘s name on it.
On the runway, now just a carpet again, a Bulgarian man in leather pants was having a drink. He had been hired to juggle fire for the outdoor part of the event. There had been fire-juggling projected on the wall inside, hadn’t there? But hadn’t that juggler been wearing a bra or something? That was the other juggler, the Bulgarian explained.
The Bulgarian said he had been in Beijing for 10 years. He is the guitarist in the city’s leading AC/DC cover band–tribute band, that is. AC/DC tribute band. He was talking to a Swede who worked for Ikea. The Ikea store in Bejiing is the second-largest one in the world, behind only the one in Stockholm.
Earlier in the day, at that Ikea, a small, inconspicuous group of Swedes and Chinese had been touring the store, studying the layout. A young Swede suggested moving the aisle displays on the ground floor about a foot from their current position, to improve the flow. The placement of the orange tool boxes, a defining Ikea necessity-impulse buy, met with approval.
According to the Swede at the Oggi party, that group had included Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea and one of Bill Gates’ few serious rivals for the title of richest person on earth.
A model walked by, in street clothes, but still looking sooty. She was carrying a big plate full of the cellophane-wrapped cake slices.
On a second-floor balcony overlooking the patio, the fire juggler did a second set. The fire was in pots on the end of chains–more fire-swinging or fire-dancing than fire-juggling. It traced loops and curls in the darkness. One of the champagne pourers, off duty, drank a slug of Bailey’s. The second fire-dancer followed, swinging flaming lengths of rope. She wore a red Thai outfit, with spangles on it, and matching red Doc Martens.
At the door, on the way out, a woman with smoked glasses handed over a gift bag. In it were, among other things, a plaid plastic tote bag, a miniature bottle of Bailey’s, a mouse pad flecked with Swarovski crystals, and a gift certificate for a free massage. It did not contain a copy of Oggi.