Last week saw the first crop of fashion design graduates showcase their talents with the LCF MA show. It was a feast of menswear. Out of this year's crop of twenty two showing students amazingly fourteen were from the menswear discipline. To celebrate the cream of incoming crop of graduates we aim to speak to each of our favourite students to learn more about their collections and their experiences at LCF. We kicked off this year's series with prize winning Matteo Molinari but now we turn our attentions to the wood craft of Yan Liang.
Liang's research focused on the interaction and relationship between disease and wood. Through examining the unique and unusual malformations and deformed trees she translated a collection which mixed fabric and raw material to stunning effect. Here we talk to the design talent to learn about her experiences at LCF and his hopes for the future...
SS: Firstly, congratulations on more than playing your part in a dazzling, menswear rich MA show. How did it feel seeing your finished designs on the catwalk?
Yan Liang: I felt relaxed when I saw my designs on the stage and found it to be enjoyable as well, because this was my moment and everybody was watching my designs during these two minutes. Though there was a small issue in that some of the outfits were forgotten but all in all, the whole process of my part within the show was memorable.
SS: Describe the moment you realized you wanted to be a menswear designer?
Yan Liang: I was a designer doing both womenswear and menswear during my BA time. When I first started my research in my MA course I realized menswear needed more attention and focus in the small details of design. The technique of pattern cutting and the control of silhouette were both important as the concept of design. I like challenges which lead me to become a menswear designer.
SS: What attracted you to the LCF MA course in particular? What was the best thing about your course? And the worst?
Yan Liang: After my graduation of BA course in Shanghai I had a plan to have a further education overseas because I wanted my designer horizon to be international. LCF was my first choice because I watched a fashion show in shanghai in 2008 which was about the all the outstanding collection of LCF MA students. That was amazing and strongly affected my application of LCF MA course.
I think the best thing of my course was I had a chance to develop a design from the original concept to final pieces. I can do everything by myself and learnt a lot. What’s more, we had an opportunity to cooperate with an industry company which made it became a little competition to get selected.
I don’t think there is a worst part of my course because every part of the course exists for a reason. If I have to choose a weak one that was both womenswear and menswear were mixed during teaching in our year which was not a huge benefit for all of the students. But I heard the university already changed this situation this year and separated menswear and womenswear.
SS: The menswear on show this year was so strong. I was amazed to see that fifteen of the twenty two graduates selected studied menswear. Aside from your own, which was your favorite of the graduate collections?
Yan Liang: I like Matteo’s collection most and he won at the end. He came from a theory background but became a fashion designer. That was really praiseworthy because we all knew that was hard. We all saw his growing of designs and he worked so hard. Many people supported him and so did I.
SS: Now on to your collection itself. Mixture experiments with fabric and raw materials in a stunning way. Can you talk us through the inspiration for the collection?
Yan Liang: This collection is called Mixture because it explores diversity. Fresh ideas about new fabrics and raw materials were mixed in this collection. Most natural substances are mixtures. Some elements may seem irrelevant. However, an effective collision of different elements may produce a new thing when they are driven by external forces. The new creature is the mixture. This collection used the idea of mixture to combine several elements which show different angles of relation.
SS: Your research focused on comparing malformation and deformed trees. What was your starting point and how did the the collection evolve in to what we saw today?
Yan Liang: My research focused on the interaction between two elements – in this case I looked at the relationship between disease and wood – examining the unique and unusual malformations and deformed trees. This translated in producing a collection which mixed fabric and raw material. I decided to use wood to work with other fabrics. There were several kinds of techniques to get the effect of wood to make garments. One of the techniques was to use real wood. Wooden pieces were sewed onto garment in the same way as sewing a button or crystal. There was another technique which used other materials to imitate the effect of wood. People used digitally techniques to coat the pattern of wood on leathers or polyester to make fabric looks like wood. By using these techniques, the collection is characterised by a jacket made of beautifully warm toned wood and accessories like bow ties also made of wood. This has given the collection a playful and humorous edge – but it still remains elegant and chic.
SS: How would you describe the collection in your own words?
Yan Liang: Garments can be made from anything.
SS: The collection uses fabrics and materials that you wouldn't normally associate with menswear. How difficult were the substances to work with?
Yan Liang: It was not easy. The steps were:
Shape confirm - Paper toile - Separated pieces toile - Dye material - Cut material - Paint edge - Dig holes - Hand stitch - Hand stitch lining - Care method - Finishing - Even the Technique of woody box was difficult as well.
I made the wooden jacket all by myself which took me nearly two months to finish them. That is why I don’t have more time to make more jackets which are made of wood.
SS: What type of man can you see wearing your designs?
Yan Liang: I think this collection has a playful and humorous edge – but it still remains elegant and chic. So anyone who like humorous designs would wear them.
SS: I know this is difficult question to answer but have you got a favourite, anything that you were most proud of?
Yan Liang: A lot of people told me they like my first wooden jacket and they want to buy it which I was really proud of.
SS: What advice would you give a prospective menswear fashion student?
Yan Liang: Trust the voice inside of your mind. And nothing will be too crazy.
SS: Finally, what would you like to achieve in 2011 and beyond?
Yan Liang: I’d love to do more designs to express myself and explain what I want to say.
Yan Liang's collection undoubtedly has a playful and humorous edge but at the same time, her designs remain chic and elegant. The various techniques and processes used to create the effect of wood in various forms and states whilst still creating covetable pieces of wearable clothing, showcase her immense skill. 'll leave you with these fantastic look book shots by Raymond T...
Photography by Raymond T, hair and make up by Pace with Tommy and Patrick as models