Late last year I was asked to sponsor an award for the Central Institute of Technology’s fashion graduates show. The designer whose collection caught my eye most was Jessica Wang’s, whose design aesthetic is influenced heavily by contemporary art, cinematic ingénues, mood and colour palette. I visited Wang at her home studio to discuss her collection along with her wardrobe staples!
> What drew you to study fashion design?
I think it may go way back to what I have loved since I was a child – making things with my hands; observing the world around me; thinking, (lots of thinking, about you know, things); and colours. Fashion Design felt like the most natural creative path to take as it’s everything I love and more.
> Your final graduate collection was my favourite. Can you please describe it?
Thank you so much! ‘A Dreamer Dreams She Never Dies’ is based on a woman who goes through episodes of lucid dreaming; hence there are some references to sleepwear in the collection. In her lucid dreams she conjures up images of abstract paintings in a myriad of colours, this is reflected in the crazy stitch detail of a few of the pieces.
When you dream your eyes are closed, but you also have a mind’s eye. My collection has subtle references to the shape of the eye. The skirt with the round pockets for example, is basically two eyes with the “eyeballs” as pockets. So when you put your hands in the pockets it’s like touching the eyeballs. There’s a surreal element to the collection.
The story is a juxtaposition of what is real and what is fantasy. My use of natural fabrics such as wool felt and silk organza represent what is real. I really wanted to experiment with the slightly tacky clear PVC plastic and bring a different quality and finish to it, so it would inject some quirk and unexpectedness to the collection. The heavily stitched PVC plastic and embellished pieces represent the fantasy side of the collection. I like normal with a side of crazy – I think the collection reflects that, hopefully in a conceptual but wearable way.
> I absolutely loved the heavily stitched plastic tube dress, it’s incredible! Is there an item that you’re particularly attached to?
It’s named it ‘The Dreamer’ dress, and it’s probably my favourite piece in the collection as well! I think I’m attached to it as it was the first piece I made for the collection and probably the biggest and most time-consuming. A close friend who also graduated with me called it the “Ben-Hur”! The heavily embellished top with paillettes and dog wool is also sentimental as it’s felted from Benji’s (my Japanese Spitz) fur.
> I really admire your personal style; how would you describe it?
I really love your style! I think I have quite varied taste style wise. I love boyfriend jeans as much as I love a feminine embellished top and I love a new pair of statement heels as much I do an unassuming vintage bag. I admire simplicity and quirk at the same time.
> What are some of your key wardrobe pieces? And why are they your favourites?
The one piece that I always fall back on is my black Garth Cook dress. It has the most beautiful drape and is made of a beautiful jersey fabric. It reveals just a peek of skin at the back and the versatility of it makes it easy to be dressed up or down and it defies the seasons.
I have a great love for denim. My Levi’s 501s have been worn to death. I can wear them with a basic tee under any jacket, coat or blazer and pretty much any pair of heels. The couple of wool felt hats I have can pull most looks together and are also great for bad hair days!
Shoes are a weakness. Any shape, colour, form or height. The black Amélie Pichard croc-stamped patent platforms will definitely be a staple this winter. I’m hoping they will go with everything!
> Who are your favourite fashion designers? And what influence do they have on your style and/or designs?
Jonathan William Anderson for his innovative modern take on traditional design and how he blurs the line between feminine and masculine; Christopher Kane for his great thinking, ideas, and originality; Stella McCartney for the most wearable pieces that most women would want in their wardrobe; Alexander Wang for designing sportswear at its best; and Rei Kawakubo, for her fantastical magical avant-garde aesthetic. I’d like to think my designs to a certain degree reflect some of that. I think my designs are full of juxtapositions; fun with a serious edge, and experimental. That’s how I like to dress as well.
> And, finally, what’s next for you?
I have my sights set on fashion styling for the next couple of years. After that I would love to start my own label and hopefully develop my own brand. I’m very excited for the times ahead!