In the next of our Behind The Seams series, Culture Trip meets Chinese designer Haizhen Wang.
While Haizhen Wang’s unisex designs are very much on trend, his signature masculine femininity isn’t as straightforward as some might think. Some will jump to common images of suit jackets and easy to wear trousers, but Wang’s hybrid aesthetic is far more romantic. Since completing his degree at London’s Central Saint Martins Wang has played with silhouette and form, offering functional shapes with artistic touches – the exaggerated flare of a coat sleeve; deconstructed shirts or the raw finish of a simple shift dress. Ahead of his AW17 show at London Fashion Week, Culture Trip talks studying under Louise Wilson, Chinese design and London Fashion Week preparations.
Culture Trip: How did you get into fashion?
Haizhen Wang: It was actually by mistake. While I was at university back in China I accidentally took the wrong class, and from there I fell in love with fashion.
CT: How did growing up in Dalian influence your initial aesthetic? What is the creative scene like there?
HZ: Growing up in Dalian had an influence on my tastes for drawing and art. I have great memories from my high school where drawing lessons and History of Art were subjects with a high intensity of hours during the term. I remembered it being a very competitive atmosphere especially in the drawing lessons where we need to present a weekly progress as part of our assessment.
CT: How did you develop your design aesthetic, was there a moment at Saint Martins that you felt you had found ‘it’?
HZ: I always felt confused thinking about how to get into fashion and how to design. However, having the opportunity to be at Central Saint Martins under Louise Wilson was the turning point to overcome my fears and to start understanding fashion. It was more of a personal journey and a battle to express myself, believe in it and stay true to it.
CT: How do you feel your designs have developed over the last couple of seasons?
HZ: The design process always has a common drive, and is to constantly renew and redefine the HAIZHENWANG woman to make her feel current and to fulfil her needs in a global and fast-paced context. Reaching new audiences has been a motivation during the development of the latest collections. The introduction of different embellishment techniques and adding ranges such as knitwear and denim has complemented our trademark tailored pieces.
CT: What have been the main challenges of launching a label?
HZ: Undoubtedly, the business side has always been a big challenge for me. My focus was always being creative but the economy is changing so finding the right balance between product and design is a reality that you have to pay attention to these days.
CT: What are your influences and inspirations for your upcoming collection?
HW: HAIZHENWANG AW17 collection is inspired by the notion of being in transit and constant movement. It is a metaphorical reaction of global immigration and a reflection of the new journey that the brand has embarked (upon). As a result, the collection has a nomadic feeling that is driven by a demand to be comfortable and better equipped for a transfer from one place to another.
CT: How do you get ready for LFW, are you organised or is there a lot of last minute prep?
HW: I have experienced from previous shows and presentations that even though you think you are prepared and organised, there is always going to be a last minute rush. Actually, I must say that it is that crazy period that I enjoy the most, it pushes my adrenaline to the limits and gives me flashing moments of inspiration.