androgyny Bejing design Education New York

Parsonsing With Rong Xiao: Role Reversal And Gender Qualification

When Temper spotted on stage some raw, sandpapered avant-garde, in your face style, we had to know what outside the box mind had created these costumes. "Or else". One WeChat call later, we happily trotted off to Parsons for a 101 with Rong Xiao, MFA graduate in the making.

Pinteresting at its very core with some serious stage presence on the sidelines. This is how one might best describe Parsons MFA graduate student Rong Xiao’s work. Before joining the free-of-judgment society that is the NYC-based School Of Design, Rong back in her hometown of Beijing created a BA collection featuring Guizhou-woven fabric liangbu entitled “Ritual Futurism”. Rituals of the past, reversal in the making and future rebellion rolled into one… It’s time for Temper to take a look at the unbridled liberalism of the present!

Copyright@ Temper Magazine, 2018. All rights reserved
Glimpses of a Graduate Part I. Copyright@ Temper Magazine, 2018. All rights reserved

The kind people at Parsons School Of Design year in year out receive hundreds of applications (read: lookbooks) from eager designer BA beavers all over the world, dreaming of gaining admission to the school’s renowned MFA program in fashion design. The brief lowdown:

Parsons School Of Design, commonly referred to simply as “Parsons”,  is the 1896 creation by American Impressionist painter William Merritt Chase as a private art and design college located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It is one of the five colleges of The New School. Notable alumni include creative powerhouses such as Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui, Isaac Mizrahi, Alexander Wang and Tom Ford in the designing field; as well as the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Joel Schumacher and Steven Meisel in the more visually artistic styles.

Enter: MFA second year student Rong Xiao.

“China in se is not inclined to go , let alone be, international. The ‘New Made In China’ tag is a way to appear more ‘globally oriented’, yet to me only serves as a means to get more money from the outside to the inside.” Rong Xiao 

Copyright@ Temper Magazine, 2018. All rights reserved
Glimpses of a Graduate Part II. Copyright@ Temper Magazine, 2018. All rights reserved

Born to a fashion designer and fashion lecturer in China’s capital, Rong has been coached with that typical creative mentality since childhood. After finishing up her Beijing BA in fashion design, the little birdy decided it was time to open up her soul painted like the wings of butterflies and submit her work to the harshest, most biased yet non-judgmental and kindest to all that is unorthodox fashion jury on the planet: New York City’s Parsons Admission Committee.

The rest is history. Currently in her second, and final, year of the school’s MFA program, Rong is one busy bee pinning, cutting and pinning away inside the 2 West 13th Street’s building (aka the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center) sixth floor design studio. Surrounded by their visionarily intellectual peers, the students — often burning the midnight oil — inside this atelier get the golden opportunity to learn from one another, stimulated by everybody’s knowledge and skill in their individual craft by choice ranging from pattern-making to textile design and creative director-ing.

Watch this short Temper Magazine clip as Rong lifts a tip of the veil on her September 2018 graduation collection:

Through the incorporation of lace and lingerie plus men’s tight boxers, Rong has taken upon herself the task of portraying “gender” as something which can be qualified.

Copyright@ Temper Magazine, 2018. All rights reserved
Glimpses of a Graduate Part III. Copyright@ Temper Magazine, 2018. All rights reserved

New York City offers the creative mind a feeling and amplification of unbridled liberalism and endless energy. Paired with the Parsons input, Rong has for the past 1.5 years been swimming freestyle in an ocean of liberty; body free, carefree and freespirited-ly. Supervised and advised by a trusted team of professors, Rong now experiences the pros of designing without boundaries, with the days of behindhand Beijing-restricted sensitive subject matter (think Gaultier-styled imaginative gender-bending sexuality or Westwood-outspoken views on politics and restrictive gender norms) long gone. The stimuli and open-mindedness she gained from both the urban and educational surroundings are now culminating in the creation of her sixth collection: Graduation.

Push and pull, that is the reasoning behind Rong’s collection on the table (one may take that to the letter). Through the incorporation of lace and lingerie plus men’s tight boxers, Rong has taken upon her the task of portraying “gender” as something which can be qualified. Through the mixing and matching of pantyhose with men’s fabrics, all the while influencing the new garment’s shape through cutting and stitching and using amongst other things a host of accessorizing bobby pins and hair ribbons, this graduate student is creating a clear and uncensored push and pull between the sexes; 40 per cent feminine, 60 per cent masculine. Color palette wise, Rong may have a proclivity for monochrome, but at its very core this collection undoubtedly is dual!

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With Rong’s collection taking to the stage come September 2018, the “Glimpses of a Graduate” Temper received and captured during our little 101 inside the studio already show off strong vision, translating into stage- and cover-worthy garments  influenced by this budding designer’s cultural and social attitudes spanning from Beijing to NYC, from socialism (with certain characteristics) to undiscriminating liberalism. Rong, see you on the runway!












Images: All images belong to Temper Magazine, 2018. All rights reserved 


Copyright@Temper Magazine, 2018. All rights reserved



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Elsbeth van Paridon

China Fashion/ Urban Lifestyle Expert, Editor-in-Chief at Temper Magazine
Elsbeth van Paridon holds a degree in Sinology from the University of Leiden (Netherlands) and additionally is just another run-of-the-mill fashion aficionada.

After tackling Beijing for some six years where she worked for China International Publishing Group, she spent a moment in time moseying down steep alleyways and writing about their fashionable and underground features in Hong Kong.

Van Paridon most recently managed to claw her way through a Europe-based academic endeavor called "Journalism". 'Tis in such fashion that she has now turned her lust for China Fashion/ Lifestyle and Underground into a full time occupation.

Van Paridon hunts down the latest in Chinese menswear, women’s clothing, designer newbies, established names, changes in the nation’s street scenery, close-ups of particular trends presently at play or of historical socio-cultural value in Chinaplus a selection of budding photographers.

Paired with a deep devotion to China’s urban underground scene, van Paridon holds a particular interest in the topics of androgyny, the exploration of individuality and the power that is the Key Opinion Leader (the local term for “influencers”) in contemporary China.
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