Young Chi­nese fash­ion de­sign­ers get big break in NYC

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By CHINA DAILY

Alexan­der McQueen, Stella McCart­ney, Zac Posen … all of these fash­ion icons grad­u­ated from Lon­don’s Cen­tral Saint Martin Col­lege of Art and De­sign (CSM). Now four of the school’s Chi­nese stu­dents have brought their works to New York to chase their dreams of be­com­ing world fa­mous de­sign­ers.

CSM fash­ion de­sign wom­enswear un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents Wang Qing, Hu Tian­jia, Hu Yingqi and re­cently ac­cepted stu­dent Qi Six­ian staged a fash­ion show for about 200 guests at New York City’s Ho­tel Penn­syl­va­nia dur­ing this year’s New York Fash­ion Week, which runs from Feb 6 to 13.

The bian­nual event is held in Fe­bru­ary and Septem­ber in Man­hat­tan each year and show­cases the lat­est col­lec­tions to the fash­ion world. Started in 1943, New York Fash­ion Week, branded Mercedes-Benz Fash­ion Week in 2009, is one of the ma­jor fash­ion weeks world­wide, along with those in Paris, Lon­don and Mi­lan.

“I am so lucky to be do­ing a show here,” said Wang Qing, a fresh­man at CSM. “A lot of my class­mates are su­per tal­ented but they don’t have such a chance.”

She told China Daily that the stu­dents were only able to present their works at fash­ion week be­cause of their de­sign coach Wang Hao’s con­nec­tions.

In the past years Wang Hao has sent more than 10 de­sign­ers he has helped to at­tend the grad­u­a­tion fash­ion show of his train­ing school, Bei­jing-based Ying Sheng In­ter­na­tional Cul­ture and Art Cen­ter (YS), to New York Fash­ion Week. But it was the first time for him to host a spe­cial show for his for­mer stu­dents who got into CSM.

“I have al­ways been won­der­ing what I could do to help these de­sign­ers’ ca­reers,” said Wang, also an ac­tive fash­ion de­signer. “That’s why I started to or­ga­nize fash­ion shows here to in­crease their vis­i­bil­ity.”

“I want to sup­port them to be­come ris­ing stars in the in­dus­try,” he added.

Al­though the young women were for­tu­nate to show­case their cre­ations along with the world’s top de­sign­ers while still in their early 20s, the jour­ney that led them to the run­way was not a smooth one, they said.

Wang Qing, Hu Tian­jia and Hu Yingqi all had al­ready com­pleted a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in China be­fore go­ing to Lon­don, but once there they had to com­plete an­other round of un­der­grad­u­ate stud­ies be­fore be­gin­ning to study de­sign with the masters at CSM.

“I thought CSM was too pres­ti­gious to want any­thing to do with me. And it usu­ally only ad­mits one or two Chi­nese stu­dents each year,” said Wang Qing. “But I tried any­way. Ev­ery day I worked from 10 am to 10 pm to pre­pare my port­fo­lio. I did noth­ing but work, be­sides sleep­ing and eat­ing.

“The mo­ment I re­ceived the ad­mis­sion let­ter, I cried,” she said.

Lon­don took some get­ting used to as well.

“I wasn’t used to the life there, nor the lan­guage. It was hard to keep up with school. The in­struc­tors don’t use text­books, so we didn’t know where to start,” said Wang, who said she is fi­nally get­ting com­fort­able with school life.

“Study­ing in Lon­don has helped me to find my own style and im­prove my abil­ity to study in­de­pen­dently, which you can’t re­ally learn from schools in China,” said Hu Yingqi, a third-year stu­dent who was the first one from China ad­mit­ted to CSM’s wom­enswear ma­jor in three years, ac­cord­ing to YS school web­page.

“Also, in China we were asked to learn from es­tab­lished works, in CSM de­sign is more about per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences,” Hu said. “How­ever, I do need to think about commercial as­pects once I grad­u­ate. In school you can cre­ate what­ever you want, but in the real world you also need to think about if the mar­ket will like it.”

Look­ing for­ward, most of these young de­sign­ers plan to de­velop their ca­reer ei­ther in the UK or the US first be­fore de­cid­ing whether or not to go back to China.

“Prob­a­bly the US. Com­pared with Lon­don, it is rel­a­tively eas­ier to stay in New York,” said Hu Tian­jia, now a fresh­man at CSM.

For Qi Six­ian, life lies where op­por­tu­nity takes her. In or­der to study fash­ion de­sign, she went to Shen­zhen for a pre-un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gram from a de­sign school in Lon­don. But through Weibo, China’s equiv­a­lent of Twit­ter, she found out about Wang Hao and headed north to Bei­jing to take a shot at CSM.

Now at the age of 20, Qi has al­ready com­pleted two shows in fash­ion week be­fore go­ing to CSM this fall. She has also been do­ing a va­ri­ety of gigs on the side, in­clud­ing sell­ing cars, in or­der to gain more so­cial ex­pe­ri­ences. Zhang Yang con­trib­uted to this story and can be reached at yangzhang@chi­nadai­


Hu Tian­jia (right), a fresh­man stu­dent at Cen­tral Saint Martin Col­lege of Art and De­sign, is pre­par­ing for her show dur­ing New York Fash­ion Week on Feb 6.

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