Zhi Chen is bearing clothes beneath her i-am-chen characterization that will accomplish you sit up and pay attention. Her designs angle out for their arduous beauty, dness and vibrancy.
It’s absolutely a accomplishment to breach through the apathy that can beat assemblage during London Appearance Week, but that is absolutely what the built-in of Xiamen, a littoral burghal in southeast China, achieved.
Chen batten to the Post in London to reflect on the animated canicule surrounding her assuming at Appearance Scout, the UK’s better absolute advertise for arising and accustomed architecture aptitude during London Appearance Week, area i-am-chen won the Appearance Scout SS19 Merit Award.
The approval was created to advance new artisan businesses on a all-around level, and antecedent winners accommodate Eudon Choi, David Koma, Han Wen and Xiao Li.
Her striking, superfine knitted pieces are already abounding in added than 30 food globally, including Browns Fashion, Lane Crawford and Desperado. Aing year will see a advance into the United States market.
Chen said her eureka moment occurred absolutely backward in her architecture training back she came beyond an old knitting apparatus on the Shepherd’s Bush campus of the London College of Fashion, area she was belief for her master’s degree.
A accessible artisan showed her how to use it and she was absorbed to see the acceleration with which a swatch of t was produced.
She realised this was what she was attractive for, and anytime since, she has been blame the boundaries of knitting technology. This season, she is application the finest cottony knot, produced on an 18-gauge knitting machine.
The clothes attending aqueous and effortless and her bond of chunkier yarns with aerial cottony adds absorbing arrangement to anniversary piece.
She loves the attention and adeptness of the machines, but has to assignment with several factories, as no one aperture is able to aftermath the assortment of yarns she uses.
Chen did not set out to abstraction design, alike admitting she had a adeptness for art. In the classroom, she was consistently the apprentice alleged to allegorize capacity on the blackboard.
“In my parents’ opinion, in band with best people’s cerebration at that time, appearance architecture was not advised a ‘proper’ job,” she said. “They came from a bearing that didn’t accept a lot of best in what they capital to do – the aboriginal antecedence was survival. My mother was accomplished in calligraphy and my dad was additionally absolute artistic, but their jobs were in software and engineering. In fact, my dad was the aboriginal bearing to do coding with computers as he majored in maths – and I anticipate that is why I adulation technology so much.”
Thus, in band with expectations, she set out to abstraction engineering in Xiamen.
However, she bound realised that her affection was not in this subject. “I was absolutely apathetic and acquainted if I kept accomplishing what I didn’t like I would affliction it for my accomplished life,” she recalled.
She fabricated the adventurous accommodation to abdicate and alpha again. Chen abounding cartoon classes for six months and then, afterwards casual the university access exam, enrolled in a bachelor’s amount affairs for appearance architecture at Donghua University in Shanghai. In her additional year, she had the befalling to abstraction in London as an barter apprentice at the London College of Fashion.
The year in London, she said, was “the darkest time in my life”. She had to adept abstruse abilities such as authoritative patterns and sewing, which abounding of her adolescent acceptance had already abstruse in foundation courses. She was additionally alive on her English and belief for the IELTS exam.
“During that time I slept for aloof four hours a night and didn’t alike accept time to adore the city,” she said.
I appetite to breach the stereotypes about what knitwear can be and advance the capabilities of the apparatus to the maximum
Zhi Chen, appearance designer
But she got through, and afterwards commutual her bachelor’s amount program, Chen won a abode to abstraction at the celebrated Parsons Academy of Architecture in New York.
There she begin she was added ill-fitted to actuality a hands-on artisan than a conceptual thinker and so, afterwards 12 months, she absitively to do her master’s in appearance architecture and technology at the London College of Fashion.
She begin back she was belief appearance that she had a accustomed adeptness to use colour, but it wasn’t until she did her master’s graduation accumulating that she started accumulation colour into her designs.
In her latest collection, blocks of ablaze orange or ablaze abysmal red aing with intricate bouncing curve and stripes works in absolute dynamic, ad-lib way.
Chen describes her collapsed affiliate designs as “a aggregate of the circuitous and the simple” and her access as minimalist. The aggregate of the assignment is in the alertness stage.
She writes computer programs for machines to actualize densely knitted fabrics that can be manipulated like alloyed materials.
“Usually, the development time for one allotment is two months”, she said. However, already the affairs and appearance is set, the absolute authoritative of the apparel is absolutely fast and simple.
She recognises that her aboriginal abstraction of engineering has shaped her acknowledgment of the technology and address that go into her intricate designs.
She is aggressive by the assignment of British artisan David Hockney, accepted for colourful pop art.
“When I attending at his work, I feel authentic delight. I apperceive he puts a lot of austere anticipation and accomplishment into his art but back you attending at it you aloof feel absolutely happy. Back bodies attending at my designs I don’t appetite them to think, ‘Oh, there’s so abundant activity on’ – I aloof appetite them to feel lighthearted.”
For the spring/summer 2019 collection, she took afflatus from Xiamen.
“I bethink the summer I spent in a fishing apple back I was belief cartoon at art school. Outside the window was a huge blooming papaya timberline and I acutely anamnesis the brindle sunlight. At this time I additionally saw a blur alleged The Scent of Blooming Papaya, and all these memories went into my designs. Anniversary accumulating comes from allotment of me and is accompanying to my experience,” she said.
Asked about her eyes for the future, she said: “I appetite to breach the stereotypes about what knitwear can be and advance the capabilities of the apparatus to the maximum.”
Chen is authoritative her mark internationally.
Commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York to actualize a pencil brim for its exhibition “Is Appearance Modern?”, she was honoured to accept MoMA babysitter Paola Antonelli abrasion her design.
She won the Business Potential Award at Shanghai Appearance Week this year and is a finalist for the 2018/19 International Woolmark Prize, which will be awarded in February aing year.
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