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Layefe Home carries on
4/1/2006 8:57

Shanghai Daily news


Layefe's popular table ware range contains a selection of modern and stylish items which are perfect for dinner parties or casual entertaining.

Chen Yifei was once China's most successful contemporary artist. His paintings were being sold for up to US$300,000 and his impact on Chinese fashion was second to none. It was this history that enabled him to establish a home ware store and fashion label that were at the forefront of Chinese style.

Chen was one of the first to capitalize on China's growing middle class. It didn't take long for Chen to move from being a successful artist to an equally successful entrepreneur.

From oil-paintings to silk apparel, Chen moved seamlessly into the world of fashion and designer home ware.

However, last year, aged 59, Chen died due to a stomach hemorrhage. Yet Chen is survived by his East-meets-West style of interior decoration promoted by his flagship store in Xintiandi, Layefe Home.

Layefe (a play on Chen's first name) was originally a fashion label the late artist launched in 1998. Then in 2000, the flagship store was opened to an appreciative public.

Since Chen's passing last year, there has been a lot of speculation about the future of Layefe Home. However, the store seems to be doing as well as it always has. The vision Chen had for Shanghai's style continues to thrive in the designer boutique.

Chen had always focused on local materials with international appeal.

From the Ming (1368-1644) style pottery of Jiangxi province (which was once the center of Imperial China's porcelain production) to embroidered cushions and table cloths that are made of the finest Suzhou silk.

Layefe Home lives up to this focus and is still one of the best places to go when looking for home wares that will impress. While still fairly expensive (as stores in Xintiandi are apt to be), Layefe has an international style that is worth paying for.

Large glass vases are priced from 350 yuan (US$43.21) upwards and the price suits if you are looking for something without the blemishes and irregularities that are common in many Shanghai vases.

Large leather magazine holders are another triumph of Layefe. They are priced at around 900 yuan and are worth every last jiao considering the stylish cut and handsome dark leather.

The same goes for their small to large leather boxes that are priced from 100 yuan to 300 yuan.

Layefe Home also stocks an arsenal of designer table ware which, while it may be too pricey to consider using for a standard meal, would surely score some points for those looking to host a dinner party.

Interesting platters and some rather good looking scented candles would also come in handy for those inviting over some style conscious guests.

Another plus of Layefe Home is that not all the goods are of super-stylish, minimalist design.

There is also a nice collection of tribal masks and wall hangings that balance out the collection.

Layefe Home may hold some extra appeal of late due to Christmas sales.

Their collection of towels and bathroom accessories has been cut by 30 to 50 percent and many of their vases are now going for half price.

Layefe is also not only a home ware store.

The fashion label namesake of the store continues to operate and a collection of handbags and clothes are still available.

While Layefe Home continues to do well, Chen's art is now seeing steep appreciation. His previous record was broken recently by the sale of one of his paintings for 6.1 million yuan.

One wonders how much of a parallel can be drawn between Chen's art and his fashion/home ware empire.

Zhang Qing, who was the director of the Shanghai Biennale at the Shanghai Art Museum, said of Chen's art, "It was very commercial...Chen was a smart person. He fused enough western bourgeois tastes into his paintings to interest Chinese buyers." Perhaps this comment indicates that a similarity between Chen's art and his business is not so far fetched.

Address: No. 12 North block Xintiandi

Tel: 6326 0716