I may have mentioned this kittykat once or twice before and no matter how I try, I simply cannot hide the big knitting needles that 25-year-old Joyce Wang is by far and beyond one of my favorite, freshest and tastiest new design kids on the block.
我以前可能不止一次地提到她，尽管多次尝试还是抑制不住我对Joyce Wang的喜爱，25岁的Joyce Wang是迄今为止我见过的最有创意、最有品味，同时也是我最喜爱的年轻设计师。
The fact that she’s a bit kooky (“weird” is such an ugly word), only adds to our mutual like/mixability.
Her modish travails and thoughts combined with a certain self-confidence — which I for one did not possess 8 years ago — may come off as poseur hubris to some, but I have yet to hear a pedantic word coming from her mouth. And believe you me, in this loveable-Poo Bah industry, “pedantic” is very much part of the wardrobe staples, never to be understated. A fashion faux pas in dire need of some recycling, if you ask me.
That being the case and left off the catwalk, I prefer to see this talented designer as an afresh not-so-kinder-surprise who uses her latest line Upcycling to take any dull, dowdy, matriarch garment from timeworn to the current timeline. From matron to mistress material. And beyond.
About The Old, The Anew and “Dress me, Be you”
关于旧物，新颜，“Dress me, Be you”
Wang is no newcomer to the designer game, having graduated from the Guangzhou University of Fine Arts, worked for Jack&Jones in Beijing and currently creating her third individual collection in Shanghai (slated for some good old-fashioned runway showing off come April 2017).
Moving from her initial cubist-cubic-marble inspired Transcend graduation collection with its straight lines, severe shapes and constructions, into the (and I quote) “copy-paste” mentality of Jack&Jones (or any similar large brand, for that matter) proved no easy feat for our dame of the hour. “I think any high-end cooperation with fast fashion brands could bring the latter some new ideas. Nonetheless, in the end, they [the fast brands] just copy one another. The reason I quit Jack&Jones is just that: Feeling the creativity being sucked out of me and basically finding no satisfaction in working for a large brand. I quit and followed my own path. To success? We’ll see, hee. At least I can pay my rent, eat and drink red wine for now.” stated Wang.
Her first personal collection as a full-fledged dressmaker (don’t take that wording too seriously, bitte) was entitled “Dress me, Be you”. The silhouettes here followed the natural flow of the body, how very feng shui, merely accentuated or boldly empowered by the occasional big graphic design — or light(some) color splash. As they say, the dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress. (Yes, Hubert de Givenchy.) This particular collection gained Wang the attention of the larger Shanghai fashion following in mid-2015. Which brings us to today’s body of artwork: Upcycling, clothing from old to anew.
她作为独立设计师设计的第一个系列叫做“Dress me, Be you”。这个系列尊重女性身体的自然曲线，以突出图案或是以浅颜色点缀为亮点。就像人们常说的，服装要顺从女人的身体而不是拿女人的身体来适应衣服的形状（纪梵希）。Wang的这个系列使她在2015年的上海时尚界脱颖而出。接下来她要我们展示她的最新设计系列：升级再造，变废为宝。
Quality before quantity. No question.
One 1960s/70s supermodel-turned-famous-actress once said “Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.” We concur, Miss Hutton. And if in the 2010s you can add some sustainability to that style, even better. Upcycling aims to reduce waste by recycling old clothing and giving it a new handmade life. Whether Wang changes the shape, paints it, draws away or mixes different materials; the concept, time, effort and personal involvement in her design process are what make the garment renewed and unique.
“Basically, I have a bunch of old clothes — given to me by friends or retrieved from the city’s random flea/vintage markets — lying around on the one side of my workshop and on the other side, you’ll find designs scattered across the drawing table. Then I just start to put the designs and these ‘unwanted garments’ [‘unwanted’, such an ugly word] together and look which combinations make that perfect fabricated [in every sense] fit.” A yet to be catwalk-stomped concept, especially in China. One other example of such re-construction design, is Gong Jiaqi, winner of sustainable fashion advocating Redress NOG’s EcoChic Design Award back in 2012.
“我有很多旧衣服，有些是朋友给的有些是从跳蚤市场／古董市场淘的，跟我散落在桌上的设计图一起在我的工作间里摆得到处都是。于是我尝试着把我的设计图和这些‘被弃’（unwanted）的衣服组合起来，看哪种组合出来的效果最好。” 这样的设计理念在中国还不是很常见。有一个值得一提的从事再造的设计师是2012年衣酷适再生时尚设计奖的获奖者Gong Jiaqi。
Obviously, and even I the non-creative get this, materials are key in Upcycling’s process. When asked about her favorable fabrics, one rolls off the tongue within a sowing machine stitch: “Denim, I favor and adore it.” The material’s workability in reference to shaping, dyeing and matching it, makes it difficult to go wrong with; you cannot wrong with it. Jeans really do represent democracy in fashion. Favorite Upcycling denim designs? One knee-length denim patchwork jacket patchwork and a top incorporating the denim waistband.
About Pre-Orders, Patterns and Pockets
Pre-order? “Yes, pre-order is the word for Upcycling. It also continues this whole concept of ‘not wasting’. If I don’t offer on-the-spot produce, I don’t waste anything heehee. [In that same galleria of thought] I also don’t know that much about sustainable fashion undertakings in Shanghai; I mean, yea, I hear people talking about it, but I haven’t seen anything yet. I did meet NEEMIC’s Hans Galliker, but he’s actually a Beijinger.” Quote, Wang. Ha, true, he is; but more on the fantastic sustainable pre-order-worship-able NEEMIC here at a later date.
Speaking of surroundings, all that surrounds us, influences us on a day-to-day basis. For Wang, her latest inspirations come in the form of the Guizhou Province’s Buyi Minority (布依族) who weave all their garments by hand, usually adorned with some basic patterns (checked or striped). It’s a minority tradition which you can play with and turn into fashion, if you will. The 2016 collection will feature Upcycling designs manufactured in the Buyi handwoven fabrics. With a side of indigo-dye (you boil the plant to create the paint and dye the fabrics or something like that, I’m not good with flora — plants die). The patterns are in fact hand-created as well, twisting, turning and sowing the fabric in such a way that the indigo’s white and blue coloring creates them very naturally. Plus, nature’s paint literally gets under your skin and benefits your health. TCM, babes.
Of course, “patterns” are merely scratching a design’s surface. Wang goes ton-sur-ton with Upcycling. Other details that take the collection’s garments from drab to fab (how very DailyMail of me) are the pockets and buttons that allow for adjustable sizes. Not per se in regards to your weight, but in regards to your fashion plate (or palette) de la minute. The wearer can create overlap, oversize or a slim fit, or whatever else befits their dainty dabbling in fashion that day. The design is in the details, non?
About Designers, Details and Directions
One detailed designer Wang holds in Bruce-Weber-high regard is Alexander Wang. Yet in her normal Shanghai lane-house life, she’s a fan of smaller brands coming up with originals — and the likes of LaBoron. As far as her own brand goes, she maintains tat people should buy a garment because they like the whatever-wardrobe-item for itself. Not the label attached to it. Upcycling doesn’t do labels and, well, fashion after all is an instant language (Miuccia), so let the garment do the talking.
In sum, Wang believes that “fashion has the power to give you confidence. If I’m not dressed up, I just cannot work. And when people keep staring, you either look fabulous or hideous. I don’t think I’m that ugly SO I must be fabulous. I’m winking now, please do write that down!” I for one am pretty convinced this little fashion frosted cupcake knows what she wants her Upcycling to stand for and is rolling in the very right direction with it — Beijing, Shanghai, Global? No rest or waste for the wicked.
Hey, according to Harry Winston (yep, it’s Sesame Street time again):
People will stare. Make it worth their while.
Portfolio: Courtesy of Joyce Wang.
Original text (English) by Elsbeth van Paridon for Temper Magazine.
Chinese translations by Li Dan (李丹, of Kitayama Studio).
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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