Zhangchi Wang graduated from the Academy of Art University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion, and with a bang. Her final collection, presented at the Academy’s annual 2012 Spring Fashion Show on May the 3rd impressed its guest of honor Sarah Burton, head of Alexander McQueen, so much that she offered Zhangchi a coveted internship in the grand London house.
Zhangchi grew-up in a city named Shenzhen, close to Hong Kong. Drawn to fine arts from an early age, she acknowledges these influences in her work. She was kind enough to answer Modeconnect’s questions.
Read the full interview below
Cathy Horyn describes your work in The New York Times as embossed felt garments, based on Chinese stone carvings. Can you describe your collection to us a little more?
The concept of my Fall/Winter collection is a walking statue and yes my main source of inspiration was Chinese stone carving. I used a lot of felt and quilting as the main technique to create texture.
Your silhouettes are statuesque and your color palette is decisively grey. What influence those strong choices
I have always been looking into sculpture as my source of inspiration and I was carried away when I discovered a piece by Chinese artist Wang Jin, named The Dream of China. It was an imperial robe made in poly vinyl, and delicately embroidered with fish line. From this piece, which is colorless, however rich in details, I gradually built my concept.
Do you consider trend when you design?
For me, the most fascinating thing about fashion is that from styling to designing, everyone can have his or her own way to execute it. This spirit keeps the fashion blood fresh. So I don’t necessarily look into trends; I see my collection as an expression of my point of view. It explains my aesthetic and my identity which is a Fine Artist using Fashion as my medium.
Do you feel that your personal history and your heritage have influenced this collection?
The answer would be yes and in many different ways. I have been studying sketching and painting with my tutor since I was ten, he has introduced me to the world of fine art. Since then I have kept my eyes open for all different types of art works; sculpture, painting, installation, performance art and so on. I actually did not realize how deeply my Chinese heritage has influenced me in this collection until half way through.
So was there a moment in the design of your collection that you feel was more important for its design?
I see the entire process as important. Challenges come up every other minute, and they are equally important no matter if they are big challenges or smaller ones. I believe good work can only be produced when every detail is being paid attention to.
But there must have been moments that were more challenging?
The most challenging part was transferring my designs from 2-d into 3-d. I had never worked with such large amount of fabric or with a fitting model. I am pleased that my fabrication worked out.
What do you feel you have learnt through the process of designing your collection?
The most valuable thing I learned besides construction techniques would be how to work with people. It is such a significant skill, and it applies no matter what I do and where I go.
What’s next for you professionally?
I would like to gain experience in a fashion house, learning about the industry, both business wise and creativity wise. I feel very lucky to have been chosen by Sarah Burton for an internship at Alexander McQueen.
If you were not designing fashion what do you think you would be doing?
Definitely fine arts, in fact I see myself doing fine arts right now because this is what fashion is to me. I have this idea of trying to show my work in a contemporary art gallery. I would like to see how people would react to it if it was shown this way.
Zhangchi, you have been working very hard on you degree collection. What do you do when you want to relax?
My all-time favorite spot in the city is San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the SFMOMA. I go to there every time I feel frustrated with design or other things, it calms me down. Also it is free to the Academy of Art students.
Would you like to add anything?
Yes I would like to thank two AAU teachers in particular: Simon Ungless and John Bauernfeind, two of the most inspiring teachers at the school. They helped me a lot, not only in practical terms on a project, choosing a type of material for example, but in the way I think.