Hi guys, today I’d like to share with you my exclusive interview with a fashion designer Xu Zhi which I managed to organise during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2016. Xu Zhi is an independent young designer brand. After gaining academic experience at Central Saint Martins, the founder and designer Xuzhi Chen worked in a number of emerging designers’ studios, including Craig Green and J.W. Anderson. In 2014, Xuzhi Chen established his London studio and has now launched his ready to wear collection.
Yukova: Could you tell me a bit more about your fashion background? Did you study fashion before Central Saint Martins? What was a course you finished?
XZ: I went to a British school in China where I finished my A-Levels before I moved on to Central Saint Martins Foundation. And then I studied BA Womenswear at Central Saint Martins where I graduated this July.
Yukova: What was the experience you’ve gained while working with emerging designers?
XZ: I worked with Craig Green and J.W Anderson before starting my own label. Both experience were very rewarding and inspiring.
Craig Green in my eyes is a true artist. He is one of the most loveable and kind person I have met. The appreciation for creation and hand craftsmanship that he has is something I learnt from him, as well as something I will want to inject into my work.
Working at J.W Anderson was a complete different experience. At the time, He had a much bigger team than Craig but was still a small team compare to what he has now and in other more established brands. I was in the design team, so it was really fun focusing on a specific part of the company but get to work closely with everyone else in that group of talented young people.
Yukova: Could you tell my readers about the concept of your Spring Summer 2016 collection? What are the materials and techniques used?
XZ: My inspiration has been drawn from Bruce Nauman’s “Art Make-up”, a video in which a model gradually covers himself in paint. This colourful superficial mask in several ways resembles fashion, as they both flatten and at the same time exaggerate our personalities.
So, I wanted to use texture and colours to give the body a new skin. A skin that both flatten and at the same time exaggerate that body’s characteristics. So the collection contains colours with warmth (oranges and pink), colours with coldness (Blues) and also complex multi colours to reflect the three directions of emotions or feelings we can show.
The textures are manipulations of yarns. Quilted loose yarns and Braided yarns that has been bonded and stitched on to the fabric.
Yukova: How does your muse look like, what is her lifestyle, state of mind, spirit?
XZ: I design for a woman who is optimistic, poetic and independent. My “muse” is human, therefore flawed, but is also fully aware of her strengths and always strives to improve and learn. She is modern, independent and shies away from trends and fads, developing her own individuality by surrounding herself with meaningful, unique objects that satisfy her aesthetic.
Yukova: What was your favourite collaboration so far? what would be your dream project or collaboration?
XZ: I love all the collaborations I have done with. This season, I was really lucky that I met Ellis White who did the shoes and buttons for the collection.
She is a very talented designer who understood what my values were and combined her techniques she developed with my materials and aesthetic.
At the moment I really want to collaborate with a set designer for my next collection where we can work on a presentation or photoshoot setting to bring my concepts to live.
Yukova: Does your collection available to buy online or in any concept store at the moment or it’s a unique one-piece collection? What is a price range for your pieces?
XZ: My first collection AW15 was sold to Tessabit.com, MVM (China), Water Stone (China) for garments, and DESPERADO (Japan) , Excelsior (Italy) for the accessories.
Garments should be available in the next few weeks. And the prices for jackets and coats range from 550-1000 pounds retail depends on the material and style.
I don’t want to jinx it, but we got a few very good concept store interests in London as well the past two days at LFW so I hope we can sell in London very soon!
I hope you enjoyed the interview with Xu Zhi. Don’t forget to check his Instagram page! It was my pleasure interviewing such an amazing fashion designer with strong personality. I wish you success and inspiration, Xu Zhi Chen!
You may also like to see how I style floral prints.
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