New York Fashion Week Interview: Fashion Designer Vivienne Tam Honored At China Fashion Night Gala

Vivienne Tam at Tokyo Fashion Week in March 2013. (Women's Wear Daily)

Vivienne Tam at Tokyo Fashion Week in March 2013. (Women’s Wear Daily)

Since debuting her first contemporary women’s collection nearly two decades ago, China-born, Hong Kong-educated, New York-based Vivienne Tam has become a household name. Celebrated for her innovative, feminine, East-meets-West designs, the iconic designer will be honored during the inaugural China Fashion Night Gala taking place tonight at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan. The event is hosted by China Beauty Charity Fund (CBCF), and since Tam is known for her support of emerging designers, it is fitting that the night’s proceeds will go toward CBCF’s scholarship for Chinese creatives to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Tam’s upcoming Spring 2014 collection will be shown at Lincoln Center on September 8 during New York Fashion Week, which she tells Jing Daily will feature the “qipao deconstructed in contemporary forms reflecting modern China.” In the full interview below, she also discusses her views on the future of design in China, fashion as cultural expression, and Asian aesthetics.

You are set to receive the China Fashion Night Award this year. What is the significance of this award to Chinese fashion design and the rise of Chinese designers?

This award signifies all of the emerging and young Chinese fashion designers who are able to be exposed to such amazing culture and inspiration in New York City. It is an incredible honor to recognize the rising Chinese talent who come to New York and are given the opportunity togrow into established Chinese fashion designers.

Currently, many of the world’s top designers from China are based in international locations such as New York, Paris, and London. Do you think we will see more major global designers based in China in the future?

I hope so, there are so many young creative talents in China that have great potential. Whether it’s in fashion, the arts, or architecture, the level of creative energy is amazing. With China gaining more international prominence, I hope more designers and artists will set their home base in China.

Your designs are frequently inspired by East Asian aesthetics. Will your latest collection feature Chinese or East Asian elements as well?

Yes, my new collection includes the qipao deconstructed in contemporary forms reflecting modern China. This is a move away from uniformity and into individuality, while still inspiring each other.

Your Fall/Winter 2013 collection invoked political Chinese contemporary art, and was compared to your legendary MAO collection from 1995, which is housed in museums worldwide such as the Andy Warhol Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. How do you see the relationship between fashion and art?

Fashion and art are a true expression of culture, current events, and a certain zeitgeist. Fashion is a form of art that reflects on what is going on in the world and what inspires us. We are in constant use of all forms of artistic impression.

Known for a 'China chic' aesthetic, Vivienne Tam remixes social realism and punk for a modern yet undeniably Chinese line at New York Fashion Week 2013.

Known for a ‘China chic’ aesthetic, Vivienne Tam remixes social realism and punk for a modern yet undeniably Chinese look for fall 2013.

We’ve read a lot lately about the rise of Chinese models in the fashion industry. Which Chinese models do you hope to use for your show this year, and what do you think their role will be in the future?

With the emergence of China as a prominent international market, Chinese culture, art, and fashion are being accepted and sought after by the rest of the world. Riding this cultural wave are fashion designers and models. I always choose models who have the right look for a particular style, individuals who can reflect the essence of my inspiration. I think you will see more Chinese super models in the future.

You currently have several boutiques in Hong Kong. Do you have any plans to expand into mainland China?

Yes, I’m always looking to expand my business and China is no exception.

What do Chinese buyers like about your designs?

Chinese buyers like that I stay true to my unique East meets West aesthetic. Cultural inspiration is clearly seen in each look. Most importantly though, is the ease and comfort of my clothes. Patterns, prints, and special embroidery applique also remain true to my signature.

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