Yiyi Wang is a senior student majoring in Fashion Design at Raffles Design Institute, Beijing and her graduate collection, Silk Life, recently won second place in the annual Raffles-BIFT fashion show (see interview with Academic Director, Vincent Rondia). Lynn Zhang of Design China sat down with the young designer to discuss life as a Raffles student, her graduate project and the inspiration behind it.
Tell us more about Silk Life. What inspired the collection?
Silk Life was inspired by the cocoon, the raw material for silk. The idea actually came to me as I was falling asleep; I was instantaneously filled by the sensation of rebirth associated with the cocoon. I also believe there is a cocoon in everyone’s heart waiting for a transformation to take place. This is the story I want to tell through my collection: a life lifted by rebirth and freedom. Also, the colour white always reminds me of the freshness of a lotus flower that has just emerged from water.
Originally, my design was much more exaggerated. I wanted to starch the fabric and create a flying silhouette; however, quite a few problems came up in realising this idea and compromises had to be made.
How are you influenced by the city you grew up in - Beijing?
I’m a stay-at-home kind of person, so I didn’t really feel a great impact from the city and I have never tried to consciously integrate Chinese elements into my work. Besides, there has been much too much effort to integrate Chinese elements into design but on a very literal and superficial level. I did, however, utilise traditional handicraft and crochet techniques, which were very popular during our parents’ generation. The crochet was hand-made with torn georgette and the untrimmed rough edges resemble the rough texture of a cocoon where a silkworm hides and waits for rebirth.
What are you most proud of so far?
I am not completely satisfied with anything so far. There are many obstacles in realising a collection or an idea, for example, how to handle fabric to achieve the effect I want. I prefer a simple, chic style, as well as creating a balance between masculine and feminine. These are all areas that still need to be explored.
How has studying at Raffles influenced your way of thinking?
Raffles emphasises inspiration, concept and the stories behind the design. We took courses that teach us how to find inspiration and to explore the unexpected like using sustainable materials; for instance, I once devised a fashion piece completely made from bamboo and hemp rope. The school also focuses on professional training like learning the necessary skills to build up our portfolio, how to find a target market, and how to promote our design work to different audiences via different platforms.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I actually want to learn more about Japanese culture and, perhaps, use my design skills to open a business. Although I love design, I don’t have a strong desire to build a career directly around it. Instead, I would like to open up a restaurant or café that exemplifies strong design touches - a space where I can display my collections perhaps.