09/15/2012 08:26 EDT | Updated 11/15/2012 05:12 EST

Modern Chinese elegance at Huishan Zhang's London Fashion Week debut

LONDON - Newcomer Huishan Zhang delivered a sophisticated debut collection Saturday at London Fashion Week, impressing the crowd with his fresh take on traditional Chinese motifs.

The tailored Chinese silk dress, the cheongsam, was updated with detachable, crystal-embellished collars, subtle prints and a refreshing palette of mint, sage, sea green and violet.

Dresses had high necklines and modest hemlines, but the way the silk hugged the body oozed sensual femininity. Prints of sparrows, pagodas and mahjong tiles leant playfulness to the elegant clothes. Silhouettes were clean and unfussy, adorned sometimes with sheer, wispy capes.

Zhang, who recently graduated from London's Central St. Martins College, spent a year working at Christian Dior before setting up his own label. His first season collection has been picked up by two retailers.

"He's delivered clothes that are appropriate for all age groups, and that's something that's quite difficult to do for a young designer," said Anne Tyrrell, a London-based design consultant. "He's one to watch, definitely."