Mingyu Du grew up in Qingdao, China, where she earned her undergraduate degree in Fine Art and Calligraphy. She graduated from Academy of Art University in December 2013 with an MFA in Fashion Design. Less than two months later, she showed her final collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (MBFW). Her collection created in collaboration with textile designer Joseph Khawane, was met with rave reviews. One of her more structured pieces, a military-inspired coat was even spotlighted in “Evening Hours,” a video wrap-up of MBFW by the famed New York Times photojournalist Bill Cunningham. Mingyu is proud of the structural shapes featured in her ‘Revival’ collection, which were created out of vintage military materials. Her pieces pay homage to the 1960s Mod subculture and its free-spirited state of mind.
Can you describe your ‘Revival’ collection?
I was inspired by the mods, a 1960s youth subculture started in London. The mods, short for the modernists culture initially expressed through music, quickly translated into style and fashion. The oversized shapes in my collection were inspired by clothing worn in the 1979 film Quadrophenia, which tells the adventures of Jimmy Cooper, a Mod in 1965 London.
For my collection I used unique materials such as a wool blankets, secondhand army tents, a huge parachute, and a cotton canvas. These materials gave the garments their shapes and brought an extra dimension to my collection, making it more alive.
What did you intend to achieve when you designed your collection?
I wanted to create something cool and special just like the costumes in Quadrophenia. I put lots of menswear elements into my womenswear collection, and chose military materials to make the pieces stronger, unique and boyish.
Are there any specific trends that you are paying special attention to?
I always like to design simple and boyish clothing because I think the simple things are the most powerful. They are stronger and less time sensitive, less likely to get eliminated over time.
In your opinion, what are the specific strengths of you collection?
The oversized coats and the uniqueness of my materials are the strongest parts of my collection. I always aim to try something different, but to be honest this choice was a challenge for me at the beginning. I never imagined that I would make shirts with a secondhand parachute and construct a coat out of an army tent. But I have to say, it was a worthwhile effort and I am very happy with the result.
Was there a special moment in the design of your collection when you felt: Yes, I was right to make those Choices?
The day I finished my first coat was an important moment for me because I instantly fell in love with it. It was at that point I knew my collection was developing in the right direction and would come together.
Was this the strongest memory of your last year?
The whole year left me with lasting memories: I had the chance to bring my designs and illustrations to life. I think the Academy of Art University, is a good place for fashion design students because the school gives us a big stage to show our collections. The Director of Fashion, Simon Ungless, gave us a lot of very helpful advice. I really appreciate all of my teachers who helped each of us complete our collections.
What advice would you give to a student embarking on this process of designing a final collection?
Find an inspiration that really moves you, and then start to work on it with your own specific view. Just imagine designing a collection that you will wear. Try out different things; the design process is a way you can challenge yourself and bring your creativity to life. Don’t be afraid of making choices and you will be able to make good decisions for yourself.
What do you hope to achieve work wise in the next few years?
I am looking for an internship and then a job in New York because I understand I still need to learn lot of things about the industry. Eventually I hope to start my own brand.