Stephy Fung: The Artist Behind the First 3D Qipao

    3D artist Stephy Fung, who brought China’s beloved qipao to life digitally, talks to Jing Daily about working in the exploding online sector.
    3D artist Stephy Fung, who brought China’s beloved qipao to life digitally, talks to Jing Daily about working in the exploding online sector. Illustration: Chenxi Li
      Published   in Profile

    Digital pioneer Stephy Fung is the next creative to be highlighted as part of the Jing Dailycommunity of individuals shaping China’s booming fashion industry. This section profiles industry leaders who contribute to the national and global fashion communities, from creatives and influencers to business executives and entrepreneurs.

    With time on her hands during the lockdown, 3D artist Stephy Fung taught herself Marvelous Designer, a popular software used to create dynamic clothing for video games and VR experiences. Little did she know that history would conspire to place her firmly at the center of a pandemic-accelerated digital fashion revolution.

    The London-based Fung, who is British-born Chinese, has been honing her technical craft in motion design since 2017. Now, as an accomplished designer, her skillset runs from motion design programs like Cinema4D to animation software such as Houdini.

    She is known for bringing the form-fitting qipao to life digitally. In fact, China’s traditional dress was one of the first digital garments the designer rendered, and her pioneering collection in arresting shades of violet, emerald green, and royal blue can be seen and worn on the international multi-brand retailer site, Dress X.

    Thanks to her vibrant, blended aesthetic, she has already received commissions from The Face, made the Top 20 of The Fabricant and adidas x Karlie Kloss digital fashion competition, and has attracted high-profile clients such as Jo Malone and Selfridges. In addition, her work has received critical acclaim from HypeBeast, Nylon Mag, and Refinery 29 in its swift rise to fame.

    2021 will see her continue to create NFTs, and here, Jing Daily finds out how Fung is using technology to explore her Chinese heritage and what it means to be a digital fashion designer.

    What is your background, and how did you end up working digitally?#

    I am a 3D artist who studied graphic design at the University of the Arts London (UAL). My background is not in fashion, but I have always had an interest in it. My technical skills are self-taught, and I have Youtube to thank for that! It wasn't until I worked on a project with Digi.gxl and was in a team with talented digital fashion designers that I had discovered that digital fashion was a thing.

    Since the project The New Order: Selfridges x Digi.gxl, I was inspired to learn how to make digital fashion, as it was complimentary to my 3D skills. So I took it upon myself during 2020 to learn how to use Marvelous Designer, and the rest is history.

    What excites you most about digital mediums and the 3D sector?#

    I work in the 3D industry but, more specifically, recently dove into the 3D digital fashion scene, where it is still very new. There are not a lot of people with 3D and digital fashion skills — only a handful of us. What excites me most [about it] is that, in the digital realm, there are no rules and no boundaries like in real life — you can create whatever you want, even if it is nonsensical.

    What is your aesthetic look, and how do you incorporate this into your visual practice?#

    I am very proud of Chinese traditional clothing and patterns. They have such a rich history behind them, and the colors are always so vivid and beautiful. Growing up as a child in Britain, I didn't care for my Chinese roots until I became an adult. [Now] I use my art as a way to reconnect back to my heritage — to educate not only myself but also my audiences.

    Where do you draw cultural inspiration from?#

    I won't lie, I hardly read books. I tend to watch a lot of films and videos to get my inspiration. A drama that caught my attention recently for its beautiful clothing and set design is "The Untamed," a Chinese period drama. Other than that, a lot of my cultural inspiration comes from traveling to Asia, which I miss dearly.

    You've already worked with some incredible clients. What's been your most interesting project?#

    My favorite project has to be working for Jo Malone for its Spring Artist series. They asked me to interpret Spring in my style, so I took inspiration from three poems from the Tang Dynasty and recreated them as an abstract 3D visual. It turned out to be a beautiful harmony between modern techniques and traditional poems.

    Fung created three abstract animations each inspired by a different Tang dynasty poem for Jo Malone's Spring Artists series. Photo: Jo Malone
    Fung created three abstract animations each inspired by a different Tang dynasty poem for Jo Malone's Spring Artists series. Photo: Jo Malone

    As the demand for this new digital medium rises, what are the challenges you face when working with clients?#

    It depends on the client. I've had clients who let me have full creative control over what I create, and I've had clients who hire me to do specific things.

    There usually isn't a perfect client. But one thing that can be difficult to convey is communicating your idea over the internet. It is important to show as much as you can to the client and let them into your vision, so they will understand your choices and thoughts.

    What inspired you to make the qipao collection, and what was the concept behind it?#

    I wanted my collection to celebrate my Chinese culture. The digital qipao was one of the first digital garments I made, and I wanted to create it so more people could wear it online. You can see it and wear it on the Dress X website.

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    Speaking of which, how do you think the pandemic has made fashion more democratic?#

    Digital fashion has accelerated. More fashion brands had to dive into this world because it wasn't possible to continue making physical fashion during the pandemic. Digital fashion will continue to grow, and I'm excited to see where it will end up.

    Finally, any advice for would-be digital fashionistas?#

    Work hard, be humble, and don't stop learning. I believe these values will enable people to be more curious and creative within their work.

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