The landscape of 2008, best summarised in a thrilling digital surround-screen film that acts as the exhibition's epilogue, is far from Chinese, in that narrow sense. Commissions have been international, and the entire scene has been devised to impress the rest of the world Homecoming Dresses conformity and contemporaneousness rather than stubborn difference.
And this is the dilemma posed by China Design Now; crudely: Short Prom Dresses China leave its own traditions behind while it takes its place as the new great world power? The exhibition is agnostic on this vexed issue. It manages to evoke three different atmospheres from a country that could have supplied hundreds. There are, especially in the early sections of the show, exquisite plays on calligraphy and fine art practice that could have come from nowhere else. But as we move through, we travel in time as well as space, and we bump against the homogenising effects of modern life.
To watch online extracts from Supergirl, a Pop Idol type of talent contest that has several million adolescents swooning to (curiously) androgynous pop singers is, truthfully, to feel a little depressed. What impresses is the scale, not the content. And scale is never enough to herald real artistic importance.
By the time we get to the work of Qian Qian, Prom Dresses 2012 of a passably diverting Nike advertisement, a graduate from the University of Edinburgh and now based in the US, we seem to find ourselves a long way from China.
Getting ready to meet a friend for a girls' night out on Monday, I pondered wearing my never-fails-me black lace dress. Yet when I slipped it on the dress looked tired, somehow, or I did, and it was very annoying because I had to take it off, hang it up, find another. And because I'd A line Prom Dresses up all night with baby, by this point I felt so exhausted that I rather lost the will to leave the house.
"Why have you turned against your old faithful?" I remonstrated with myself on the way to the restaurant. "It's a thing of beauty, and it's not only quite glamorous, it's almost comfortable." I thought of all the places we had been together and the nice things people had said: the speedboat in Venice; the foreign fiction prize where I had fainted and many, many, people rushed to my aid; the hen night where I got books of pink matches printed with silver italic script saying "Here Comes the Bride - Isn't she Lovely!" and everyone was delighted with me.
Then I realised, with a startling flash of insight, that the Baby Doll Prom Dresses suddenly felt wrong because it had turned into that dreaded thing: a classic. It could suit anyone of any age or shape: nymph or matron, dragon or chick. It could have been bought this year or 20 years ago. It could have been cheap or expensive. It could be worn by a woman very young or pretty old, nice or nasty.