Hua Has Created Designs For Chinese Artists Like Zhou Chunya, Yue Minjun, Ding Yi
Since establishing her eponymous fashion label in 2004, Shanghai designer Judy Hua (华娟) has gradually built up a respectable following as one of the city’s most promising home-grown talents. After getting past a rough first few years, Hua’s adept networking abilities and skill at navigating Shanghai’s social and arts scenes have paid off, with her company now supplying more than 1,000 B2B clients and Hua creating one-of-a-kind pieces for Chinese contemporary artists like Yue Minjun, Ding Yi, Xue Song and Zeng Hao.
In addition to her haute couture pieces, which are mostly done for well-off Shanghainese women, who Hua says “have no time to focus on fashion, so they give us the job of making them look good,” her company outsources production on uniforms for B2B clients such as government offices and the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
This October, Hua will debut her Spring/Summer 2012 collection at Shanghai Fall Fashion Week. Although Hua has been tight-lipped about the collection, she coyly told reporters that it will involve a design cooperation with “a [famous] artist.” This week, Hua spoke with BundPic about her design philosophy and passion for art. From the interview (translation by Jing Daily team):
BundPic (B): You don’t come from a design background, so what was it that drew you to fashion design?
Judy Hua (J): Because I have a keen interest in art. But pure art is really an emotional thing, and I wanted to do something a little more connected with [real] life. Girls tend to like pretty, delicate things, so I went with fashion design. Although it’s tough, tiring work, I never complain about it.
B: You were invited to Vienna to do the closing show at this year’s “Vienna Fashion Festival,” and at the same time you debuted your A/W 2011 series. Can you tell us a little about that series?
J: Austria and China were celebrating the 40th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. Austria invited some Chinese designers to do the closing show, and I was honored to be one of the designers chosen. The Austrian officials wanted us to use “Chinese contemporary creativity” as the theme of our show, so I incorporated three Lujiazui (Shanghai) landmarks — the Park Hyatt hotel, Jin Mao Tower and the Shanghai Center — in my series. I hoped that through describing the kind of construction [you see in the city] as well as the natural beauty of the Huangpu River, I could express the style of contemporary Shanghai.
B: In 2008, you ended your retail sales efforts, choosing instead to specialize in high-end couture. What led you to that decision?
J: Just during the work process, I gradually figured out that the best way for me [as a designer] is to find my own direction. The retail world puts huge constraints on design, and forces you to be more commercial. High-end couture lets me use my imagination while working to meet the needs of my clients.
B: In general, who buys your custom pieces? How long does the entire creation process take?
J: Female entrepreneurs, collectors and artists, people in show-biz. The customization process totally depends on the needs of the person. If he or she wants to buy something I’ve already designed but just wants some changes made, in terms of color or size, it’ll just take 8-10 days, including one test fitting. But if he or she wants me to tailor something from scratch, it takes about 2 weeks.
B: Who are some of the fashion designers you like?
J: I like Yohji Yamamoto. Although his business has experienced some ups and downs, his personality and conception of aesthetics is something I really study. Issey Miyake is an expert in fabric, and his pieces all exhibit a kind of Zen feeling and everything he makes has its own style. This March, when I went to Paris for Fashion Week, I was most impressed by Vivienne Westwood, though. Even though her clothes might not be my style, I admire her spirit. There’s also Rei Kawakubo, who in my opinion is one of the few female heroes in the fashion industry. She advocates an independent spirit and freedom of thought that I respect and try to practice myself.
B: What are your preferences in terms of collecting art?
J: I like different things at different times. I used to really be into collecting Chinese calligraphy and painting, and some of my favorite works of art are old jade and silver jewelry. In the past I used to collect mostly antiques and traditional art and thought contemporary art was “too lively” (太热闹). But nowadays I’ve changed my mind and think every kind [of art] has its own strong points. The way contemporary art works is more appealing. It can make you happy, but it can also reflect the power and speed of the world we live in. In general, I like things that are simple and powerful.
B: Do you have a particular artist whose work really impresses you?
J: I like Zhou Chunya’s (周春芽) “Peach Blossom Series” and my personal favorite [of his] is his “Green Dog Series.” Zeng Fanzhi (曾凡志) is another one of my favorite artists. I think his “Mask” series does a good job of reflecting on human nature, and his latest “Chaotic Pen Series” (乱笔系列) is great as well. I also like the Taiwanese artist, Zheng Zaidong (郑在东).