Due to my love for fashion, I have been covering New York Fashion Week during the last five years, as fashion journalist.
At first, I attended every single show or designer presentations where I was invited. Everything was new to me. The who is who factor was a key player. I learnt a lot watching people in the streets as well, talking to them. Always with an open minded to different ethnicities.
Therefore, for me, fashion week is not just a series of events regarding clothes, but it’s also a very interesting social and inter- cultural experience.
Little by little, and, due to some fashion exhibitions I had the chance to review in person, such as China in America at MOCA and Folk Fashion at the Folk Museum, , I got a more profound idea of the importance that different asian communities have in North America, and their strong influence on the fashion industry of the country.
Then, fortunately at 2011 spring edition I met the asian-american journalist Sheri Chiu who lives in Paris. I not only loved her looks, but also appreciated her eye on fashion. Therefore, I would like to share with you my interview on chinese designers in America:
Flor: What is your opinion on asian and asian-american designers in America?
Sheri: I see more and more asian designers showcasing their collections in New York Fashion Week and it makes me proud, because I’m asian american myself. We see Jason Wu who has dressed the First Lady, Dao-Yi Chow from Public School who truly represents the grit of New York, Philip Lim dressing the likes of Kanye West, Richard Chai who partnered with eBay Now to make all those blue and white patterned tote bags during this past season’s New York Fashion Week, and who can forget Alexander Wang as the former Creative Director of Balenciaga.
Then there are the women like Vivienne Tam, Anna Sui, and Vera Wang who have taken long strides in the industry as well. It is a wonderful success story to see asians, whether born in the United States or abroad, work hard and thrive in this country.
Flor: I have noted a big designer community running their respective businesses in NY and being very successful. Why do you think this is going on?
Cheri, I can’t speak for all design houses, but I know that Alexander Wang in particular is a business run by his family. I think that this helps in fortifying the brand because Wang works with people who love and support him.
Flor: Do you think the cultural heritage of China has been well represented through American asian designers?
Cheri: I think designers Vivienne Tam and Zang Toi do a great job of weaving chinese influence into their designs. From Toi’s Spring 1991 Chinese Folk Art-Inspired dress to Tam’s Spring 2014 Collection highlighting a modern girl in Shanghai, both designers always pay tribute to their home. That being said, I don’t think that it’s necessary to always incorporate chinese elements into designs to show where they’re from. A lot of asian-american designers have been proving that they have a view on fashion that goes beyond time. Their visions speak in the high quality of the garments’ construction and silhouettes. I don’t think it’s essential to show Asian inspiration if you’re Asian. A strong designer should be able to say what he wants to say, regardless of background.
Flor: What are your thoughts on Alexander Wang as former creative director at Balenciaga Paris? Do you think Anna Wintour has contributed on this appointment?
Cheri: I’m sure Anna encouraged Alexander to take the job. She said he would “never forgive himself” if he didn’t take this opportunity. Alexander also visited a psychic who told him that the job was his destiny. No matter who convinced him to take the position of Creative Director at Balenciaga, Alexander’s TALENT and humble personality is what got him there. At just 29 years old, the designer had accomplished a lot by his own unique vision for fashion. I think he did very well.
Which were the collections you liked most?
Richard Chai – I loved his use of bright colors, masterful layering, and theme of soft geometry.
Tadashi Shoji, Marissa Webb, Noon by Noor – I really enjoyed this visually alluring show thanks to the gorgeous patterns and feminine cuts, Vivienne Tam
Y-3 – This was by far my favorite show during New York Fashion Week. Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas did an amazing job of utilizing the Post Office space. There was a live rock band, and models walking in criss-cross formation. The clothes were so strong and spoke to Adidas’s athleticism.