Hailed as China's biggest pop phenomenon, Sa Dingding has arrived in the West. The intriguing 24-year-old artist kicks off her European tour in November — featuring dancers and kung fu artists — with concert dates planned for the U.S. for April 2009. Raised in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, the singer, whose lyrics weave a mix of Mandarin, Mongolian, Tibetan and Sanskrit, is a skillful player of traditional Chinese instruments, fusing ancient music with electronic sounds. Designing her own stage costumes, Sa Dingding is also turning heads for her eccentric dress sense. Tibetan prayer flags, Buddhist imagery and saris are all part of her exotic magpie sartorial mix.
WWD: What inspires your costume designs?
Sa Dingding: Like a lot of fashion, I’m influenced by the precious colors found in Asian art. I use clothes to help the audience understand the spirit of my music. The stage is a huge space and people are tiny so the costumes need to be all the more outstanding….A lot of my expression is achieved through makeup.
WWD: How long does it take you to get ready before a show?
S.D.: I’m very last-minute. Usually the music has already started on stage as I’m finishing getting dressed.
WWD: Are you a fan of any Western designers?
S.D.: Yes, many: Anna Sui, Vivienne Westwood, Giorgio Armani and John Galliano. I would love to communicate with different designers as I have a lot of interesting ideas to share.
WWD: What do you think of the Chinese fashion scene?
S.D.: To me, walking in the streets in New York is like walking in the streets of Beijing and Shanghai; it all looks the same. I think the Chinese need to create a special style. Right now, all of the big trends are created by Westerners, but I hope that China will define its own identity.
WWD: Any plans to launch your own fashion line?
S.D.: It’s my dream…Fashion is a good platform for communicating my art to more people.
WWD: What’s coming next?
S.D.: In October, I’ll be playing at a charity concert in [Beijing’s] Olympic stadium. It will be the first show staged in the space after [the Games].