“The West And East Will Always Be Seductive To One Another”
Following Haizhen Wang‘s AW 13/14 catwalk show, which closed out this installment of London Fashion Week, Jing Daily was invited backstage to speak to the Fashion Fringe Award-winning designer. Seductively structured and unlike anything we have seen from him before, Wang’s latest collection saw the young designer congratulated after the show by both British and Chinese Vogue, marking his shift from emerging to established designer.
Having received congratulatory pats on the back from the fashion set, Wang sat down for an intimate Q&A with Jing Daily.
Jing Daily (JD): Thank you for speaking to Jing Daily today. When we spoke last year you were in a different place, a struggling designer, and now you have editors and buyers fighting to sit in the front row. To what to do attribute your success in this fiercely competitive industry?
Haizhen Wang (HW): Most people before the Fashion Fringe Award had never heard of me or seen my work. The award has launched me into the forefront of fashion for sure. Before winning I had a few seasons, that was my experimental stage, the period where I was testing the waters and building [confidence in my] technical aptitude. Unlike before, this is not a developing collection, for me it’s an established collection where people can see the true me. So a mixture of press exposure and growth in ability to understand and execute design.
JD: I read your fashion notes before the show, but can you tell me if you had any personal inspiration that contributed to the collection?
HW: Honestly, no. There is no personal note in this collection. There was no time to think of it that way. I moved here in October so after that move and [the] pressure that came with the award, I had to focus and work. Forgive me, my heart wasn’t working and I can’t give you a personal note to this collection, I noticed people wanted to see what I was designing straight away after winning and you don’t have time to even think about personal emotional factors, you concentrate on time-honoring your work to the highest capacity.
JD: How have you coped with the pressure after winning the award and being thrown into the spotlight?
HW: (sighs) It has been really difficult. From the beginning I didn’t know what to do, and no one knows this, but I slept in the studio just to be alone. In the daytime I have assistants, interns and family, so I needed to be alone. I’m not sure if I was even allowed, so I hope Somerset House don’t mind, but I would go home, shower, eat, then at 9 or 10pm bring my pillow and work until I physically couldn’t anymore. I had doubts, sure, if I could even finish at times, but I focused and did it.
JD: Why do you think we are seeing the rise in Chinese-born, London-based designers?
HW: The Chinese have always wanted to prove and establish themselves [in] the West, show that we can do what everyone can do. The new generations are hungry [to experience] fresh and exciting cultures, we are not closed off like before. The economic boom has helped our confidence, and in the last decade we have had more access to visas to explore the world. Before we would study in a different country and go back home to work, but the confidence is there now to explore the world. The West and East will always be seductive to one another because of the differences.
JD: When will you feel you are living your dream? What is the final goal, the image you have in your mind that is the picture of success?
HW: For me, I followed my dream — Central Saint Martins was my dream, to follow in the footsteps of Galliano and McQueen. I had never seen anything like their work before and that was my dream. No matter [what] has come up in my path I have stuck to it. I’ve been here for over 10 years and I have not once ever wanted to stop believing in my dream or stop working for it.
The image I have is being backstage after a show, when people are shaking my hand, congratulating me on my show, recognizing my work and wearing it. Just to be always designing and focused in what I love and do. To be a part of this is a dream, and I am aware I am living my dream.
JD: Finally, tell us a secret.
HW: If I told you it wouldn’t be a secret, but you’re relentless so here you go: Nobody knows this, but the fabric from the final piece in my show is actually from last season! I didn’t want everyone to know, but there you go.