INNOVATION DRIVES FASHION FORWARD

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How Chinese Artists Think about Fashion? Exclusive Interview with 4 Chinese Artists

April 10,2018

Both fashion designers and artists are good at being creative and challenging the norm. What happens when the two groups work together? Where do they agree and differ in their views and attitudes towards fashion?

We asked several artists who have recently worked with fashion designers four questions:

  • Why have you chosen to work with designers? What are your criteria when selecting designers to work with?
  • Have you ever worked with other types of brands? If so, what’s the difference when working with designer brands?
  • How do you understand and express the idea of fashion?

Artist Wei Wu (伍伟), working with Awaylee

I doubt whether fashion exists 

Wei Wu

I believe that every artist who creates original work is a brand. Artists have to be independent and original. It is the same for brands. Good artists provide their audience and society with new possibilities and spark new opinions.

Mika Lee (李薇), the designer for Awaylee, has found a conclusive and expressive way to communicate feminine refinement. She has succeeded because her work is personal and independent.

Work by Wei Wu

I remember my collaboration with I.T Beijing Market well. I was invited to hold an exhibition in the art gallery on the fourth floor of Taikoo Li Sanlitun. I was the first Chinese artist that they had invited. I produced a project called ‘Propitious Omen’ (祥瑞). I put my work into the context of clothing, as the desire people have for luxury clothing reminds me of some sort of primitive desire.

This time, working with Awaylee, I started with the concept of their new collection, Ballet. In the exhibition ‘What You are Seeing is Seeing You’ (西尔菲达的诱惑), I used the story of the ballet, Les Sylphides, and combined it with the story of the founding and development of the brand. Through the division of space, progression, installation, performance and sound, we created a mysterious theatre that formed in dynamic spaces. This experience of working with Awaylee didn’t just involve my work per se but also involved the thought process I go through when creating art.

Work by Wei Wu

I’m confused by fashion. I doubt its existence. It could be human’s uncertainty of beauty.

Fashion is similar to modern art sometimes. It’s the crazy pursuit of unknown fields and new sensations. It’s like a messy construction site that will never be completed. It is inseparable from people’s imagination. If you don’t stop imagining, its attraction will last indefinitely.

Artist Chenchenchen, working with Baixiju (百戏局), a sub-brand of Mukzin (密扇)

I think fashion is the subjective processing of objective information

Artist Chenchenchen

The flavour of the brand with which I am collaborating is the most important thing for me. Kate, the artistic director of Mukzin (密扇), has a deep understanding and accurate judgement of art, which surprises me. I want to work with the brand because I’m not an expert in fashion and I want to learn.

Through this in-depth collaboration with a fashion brand, I’ve learned a lot. There are many valuable details to understand in the whole process.

Image: PETER XU STUDIO

I dare not talk about how I understand fashion. I think fashion is the subjective processing of objective information

French musician Yann Gourdon, working with Wanbing Huang

Fashion is a field that I want to understand.

Yann Gourdon’s live performance of a medieval hurdy-gurdy

I’ve never worked with brands before and have never been to China. Wanbin invited me to participate just two weeks before the show and I quickly said yes. For me, it’s a new endeavour to combine music and a fashion show, and I like this new form of performance.

When Wanbin talked me through how to approach this fashion show, I was really interested. Her presentation is just a display of her clothing designs. It’s more like an art exhibition, like painting or dancing. I don’t know whether this is usual in fashion.

Image: Yann Gourdon’s official website

Fashion is something new to me. I’ve performed in many places in Europe, including producing music for films, dance, theatres and art installations. Fashion is something I’d like to learn about.

Artist Lisha Jiang, working with INXX

The general public follow artists and designers because our job gives them a new perspective on their lives

Artist Lisha Jiang

I like working with brands that generate excitement. Lady’s Fight Club came from an interesting idea, and ideas like this are the biggest motivation for me to be creative. INXX is a brand that likes challenging the norm and doing fun things, an approach which is similar to mine.

Work of Lisha Jiang

Working with INXX is the first time I’ve worked with a street brand. It’s a unique experience for my work to be applied to a different media. Fashion items are worn by different people in different ways so I can’t anticipate how they will be presented, but it’s a new way to read my work. I’d like to to see girls with different looks and backgrounds, slim or ample, wearing my fighting heroine.

Work of Lisha Jiang

As an artist, I don’t understand fashion and have never thought about how to express the meaning of fashion. It’s not my job, but I do enjoy working with people with different jobs.

From what I’ve seen, some people think that the transparent plastic slippers worn by people in the poorer towns and villages in China are out of fashion, but designers like such things, including polypropylene bags and baskets, and these are already becoming part of the new collections from well-known luxury brands. It’s important to give ordinary elements a new form and meaning. The general public follows an artist or a designer and appreciates a brand because their work challenges what they believe in and gives them a new perspective on their lives.

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