A pungent sense of minimalism infused with delicate androgyny make up for Chinese designer Haizhen Wang’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection. Wang, who hails from the coastal city of Dalian, completed his MA in fashion design from Central Saint Martins. He draws an unquenched inspiration from British culture and tradition, which he ingeniously blends with influences from his own Oriental heritage. Wang previously cut teeth at fashion power players, such as Max Mara and All Saints, before he launched his namesake brand in 2010. Here, we unspool his mind as he unravels his past and his views on the current fashion scenario.
What are your fondest memories of Dalian, China (where you were raised)?
Seafood and beer.
Do you feel your designs reflect your Chinese heritage?
I think it’s something that’s hard to escape. My Chinese roots will always be reflected in my designs.
What is your opinion on the contemporary fashion scene in China?
Chinese Fashion has grown so much in the past few years, and I’m proud to be part of it.
Name one lesson that you’ve taken away from each of the companies you have previous worked at?
Boudicca: individuality and an independent spirit; Max Mara: teamwork; All Saints: self-confidence.
Describe the first emotion you had upon receiving the Fashion Fringe award in 2012.
I had a very particular feeling. The first two seconds my mind was blank, and I was speechless.
What is the inspiration behind your SS 2016 collection?
Proportions that disturb balance are at the core of my SS16 collection where everything unbalances the normal to dramatic effect. This season, I studied the tipping point of balance in design — that moment a designer makes a small change that dramatically changes a garment. Altering proportions through the use of colors, fabrics and superimposing lines to create space and volume become significant. These adjustments cause a larger, more important change aesthetically at the crucial moment where a garment is transformed from ordinary to extraordinary.
How do you differentiate your style of androgyny from several other designers who are embracing it as a design aesthetic?
The structure of the body is an important focus point for me, which tends towards an androgynous form. That, mixed with my Chinese background and western cultural experiences, I hope creates an aesthetically different point of view.
What is one fabric or silhouette that you will never experiment with and why?
I will never say never to experiment with materials and shapes as long as it won’t disturb the beauty of women and their body.
How has British culture and the city of London influenced your designs?
I have always been interested in the history of the British Army, the culture of Portobello market and the Saville Row English gentleman. These are always key references in the development of my collections.
Do you have an item of clothing that has been in your closet forever?
Yes, it is actually a pair of trousers that I mistakenly sewed into a skirt at the beginning of my fashion studies.
When you’re blank and need inspiration, what is the one place you go to?
I find it inspirational to be lying down in the woods surrounded by nature and my own soul.
When you’re not designing, you are…?
After working intensely in the studio, I tend to just watch TV or do something where I’m able to switch off from all the ideas running through my head.
Describe your ideal source of relaxation after a long day’s work?
I think it’s important to be able to laugh to allow lightness.
The song stuck in your head?
“Too Insistent” (Trentemoller remix).