The Limelight: Helen Zhang Interview
Hey ! Here is another week of The Limelight, a series of interviews with designers on their designs and journey to the fashion industry. I so happen to come across this emerging indie brand as I was preparing for a photoshoot in New York and I came across her designs. I found her story was very intriguing and wanted to reach out and know more about this brand. Let's get into
The Limelight: Helen Zhang
[MIKARA] As a person that pays attention to details, and visual storytelling (using fashion elements), I quickly identified that there were four characters. And when I read the meaning behind it, it symbolized your grandmother's journey through life. What inspired you to use her life for this collection?
[HELEN] I always fascinated with 1960-1970's period in China. It is a period where my parents grow up but is so different from what I grow up from. It is a period where government is the center of their life, and whatever they do is neither politically correct or not. And more importantly, my grandparents are highly involved with government, I remember when I was young, my grandparents' friends are some of the most important characters in the government. The fact I was born in Italy, and embed mostly in western culture, made me very curious about the lifestyle that is very Chinese and very different from me. In 2017 spring, my grandma has passed away due to Alzheimer's disease. I think it was a great opportunity for me to capture her memory while dedicate this collection to her life.
[MIKARA] Since you used your grandmother's life for this collection during the 1950s to 1980s, what made you pick the color orange?
[HELEN] Orange is a color when the red color is faded away, this is a color that I find in a lot of my research where the red propaganda poster faded away. It appear in the color of orange.
[MIKARA] What inspired you to become a fashion designer? And why?
[HELEN] I always what be a artist, when I was young my dream is to become a writer. I love to tell stories. Fashion is a way to tell stories with more perspective and dimension.
[MIKARA] How would you define the Helen Zhang woman?
[HELEN] I gonna officially launch my brand on fall 2018 as social-work. It will be a brand that represent a Multiplatform for All-gender fashion and culture representation. The brand combines workwear and sportswear with emphasis on Asian Culture. We already started a capsule collection on the end of 2017, the customer who love our products are young adults 26-36 who love to dress casually and brave to express their identity. Since our clothes are gender-neutral. The girls who love to buy our clothes love to dress masculine. I get lots of inspiration from worker's on the street. Not just they way they dress and they fact they are lower middle class that always be overlooked by high fashion and youth culture.
[MIKARA] How would define fashion?
[HELEN] I think fashion is by-product of culture. And a great fashion designer is using fashion as platform to present culture.
[MIKARA] What defines your meaning of success in the fashion industry ?
[HELEN] I think success is when you become an inspiration for other people, whether is an artist or an ordinary person. when they see your work it will give their new inspiration to encourage them to do something different in their life.
[MIKARA] Who are your top 3 favorite designers? And why?
[HELEN] The top 3 fashion designers I love are Gosha Rubchinskiy, Maison Martin Margiela and Helmut Lang in the 90s. I love them is because they are not afraid to push boundary politically and socially. And they are not following the rules that fashion system. They are the rule setters.
[MIKARA] Outside of fashion, what is your favorite thing to do?
[HELEN] I never see myself as a fashion designer, I see myself as an artist. Aside from fashion, I love to write stories and create art.
[MIKARA] Closing out this interview: how do you want to be perceived/remembered ?
[HELEN] I wish one day I can be perceived as an inspiration for younger generation.