Rise and shine, the Year of the Rooster is here! One cannot sneak a sunrise or fine piece of cloth past the vainest of them all and with a mighty alluring crow, my fellow 1981 Chinese animal Chiara Sassu explores the prestigious potential of designer Lucien Wang. Cockadoodledo!
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway in “
Un grand merci et big bisous à self-proclaimed Cubano Sato Hemingway for burning the midnight oil in Paris and turning us all on to the “mojito in La Bodeguita; daiquiri in El Floridita”. The legend allegedly was not too taken with the Middle Kingdom, one notorious meeting with then First Lady Song Meiling (宋美龄, that’s Mrs. Chiang Kai-shek to you) unfolding in less than sartorially polished manner. “He wasn’t impressed by the culture before he left the United States by ship in February 1941, he arrived determined not to be impressed and he left duly unimpressed,” then Mrs. Hemingway — aka War Correspondent Martha Gellhorn — wrote in her 2001 autobiography “Travels With Myself and Another”. Back to 2017 Paris, then.
That well-established Parisian combination of fashionable lucidity and brainpower-devouring passion can lead to those luminous ideas evoking the lustiest and robustiest of nuances in any designer’s collection. Pattern-perfectionist Lucien Wang’s is no exception to the rule. To this day, the designer scores his fabric from the best French and European suppliers who in their portfolios can boast clients such as Vuitton, Chanel and Dior. Shining like the surfaces of the textiles he employs, the most important aspects for the development of the “Lucien Wang” name and brand are the quality of the product as well as its placement within the market — i.e. which channels will ensure a growth in clientele and let the mode paramours out there know about his brand. Without diluting its essence.
“I saw a couple of pieces from Lucien Wang at S.T.A.R.S. and was impressed by his choice of fabrics: High-quality textiles with a clear French allure.” Chiara Sassu
Sharing her urbanite passions and fashions through the lifestyle blog that is Chiara’s Coffeetable, Italian-born and Beijing-based H&M Store Developer Chiara Maria Sassu takes to the streets of China’s capital to capture and question in true fashion-courtisane form the A to Z among the city’s latest talented designer tszuj. This time around, she spotted with her Nikon flashing eye Berçot-graduate Lucien Wang. From the very earliest of earliests to those lucid dreams for the distant future, Sassu reigned in the man by his suspenders and he gave her the puff-sleeved shirt off his back. So to speak. Bring it on home, signora
“Along the banks of the Seine, his ideas flourished, his vision took shape. One serendipitous meeting with Studio Berçot’s Marie Rucki was the turning point in the pursuit of a dream he previously hadn’t dare verbalize.” Lucien Wang, His Story.
Sassu: How did your career in fashion take off?
Wang: “I’ve always had a great passion for fashion, but way back in 2004, I didn’t have a clue as to how I would actually make it happen. I was in Paris studying French and trying very hard to keep up with my computer science university program… Alas, the result wasn’t good; I simply had no interest in pursuing that type of career. At that point, I had the opportunity to interview with Marie Rucki, president of Studio Berçot, one of France’s most prestigious fashion schools. She could spot my potential even though I had no specific skills at all… ‘The important thing is that which you carry inside your heart,’ she would tell me. She accepted my application and in 2005 I enrolled in a fashion program that taught me the basics. And changed my life.”
Sassu: As an insider, was fashion what you expected it to be?
Wang: “Yes, I loved everything about it — and I still do. After graduating, I felt the need to start working straightaway: I wanted to have a more hands-on approach and learn more about fabrics in general as well as get better acquainted with different embroidery techniques. I managed to do so simply by being inside Veronique Leroy‘s atelier. During those years [2007 to 2011], I worked as a designer, but at the same time as a buyer and stylist because I realised that the fashion world is multifaceted. I wanted to know it inside and out, from all different angles.”
Sassu: If you liked what you were doing in Paris, why did you decide to come back to China in 2011?
Wang: “Actually, during my years in Paris I realized I was really touched by the ‘fashion magic’ — once I couldn’t stop crying after a fashion show: Hours and hours of work had gone by within the timespan of a mere 10 minutes. Lights off! I clearly remember thinking to myself: ‘Stop crying and go found your own fashion label!’. This personal brand in 2008 came into being, but I soon realised that it would be absolutely impossible for a young brand to survive in France — everything is just too expensive. This is the reason I decided to move back to China, opting for Beijing because of its culture and historical allure. Even from here, I keep working with French and Italian fabric suppliers. I do miss Paris, very much so… Its environment and fashion awareness are unparalleled.”
Sassu: Out of curiosity… What story actually lies beneath your 2014 S/S White Collection?
Wang: “This collection actually told my own story: A collection made up of basic pieces that have been realized with the best of techniques. It took me quite some time to select the exact white nuances I wanted to use and to de-construct and re-construct those basic garments — using my own style and technique. Moreover, white is the most difficult color to work with! You have to be very careful when handling white fabric: It’s tricky to wear and thus even harder to sell. And the latter is precisely why this collection tells the story of my life: It’s a challenge. And a continuous improvement in motion.”
Sassu: What is the main challenge you and your team are facing right now?
Wang: “Finding out the right sales channels is crucial for the development of my brand. I have been contacted by quite a few shop owners across Beijing [and China-at-large], but it’s very hard for me to trust them. That is to say… There aren’t that many professional buyers around here and sales people are very often not suited to sell the Lucien Wang lifestyle. This is a problem for me and the reason I have thus far been very picky about my selling points. Michel Alarcon from S.T.A.R.S. is actually one of the few I completely trust!”
Whether it’s by means of sowing, pleating, baking or weaving, one’s outfit contains the chemistry between fabric, body and creative vision; and in order to inflame the outlandish couture-cred, one must try new things. Every cut and fold embodies Wang’s demand for everlasting elegance and every creation in itself is a chemical feat — albeit in a figure of speech.
Hemingway once wrote,“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” Ergo… There is such a thing as perfection; it just requires the suitably stitching together of dreams and technique. Et un peu de tszuj.
Additional editing by Elsbeth van Paridon
Chinese translation by Vivian Zhou.
Images: Chiara Sassu.
Portfolio: Lucien Wang