From Taiwan, made a fortune in London: Interview with fashion designer SHAO YEN

From Yilan, Taiwan, more than a decade of experience in the London fashion industry – since its rise in 2010, Chen Yuyan has connected the fault of Taiwanese designers in the late 1990s. Like other designers, he paints a story through costume design; it's just a fragment of his sewing, more about the abstract emotion than the plot. In the background of people coming to the fashion industry in London, too many designers are rapidly rising and retreating. The more cities are filled with opportunities and creativity, the more turbulent and fierce the competition is. With a consistently modest attitude and appearance, Chen Yuyan left the madness to the artistic expression on the clothing.

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Photo Courtesy of SHAO YEN

Between the swings of the limbs, the design of the garment explores the possibilities between the human body and the clothing. "I think that after all, clothing still needs people to wear, in order to express feelings and emotions; when the clothing line swings with the body movements, it conveys a feeling that is quite different from that on the hanger." This is what he got from his clothes. Recognition. Perhaps because he is deeply influenced by the performing arts, I always see the dancers in the outline of Chen Yuyan's works. This does not mean that his costume is suitable for dancers to dance, but that he explores more possibilities in clothing in a similar way to performing arts.

Stand up toes, with the arm extending or encircling, the body contours gradually enlarge; seemingly light movements, from the endurance and strength of the muscles; fading behind the storyline, the swing of the limbs expresses the pure growth and decline of emotions: The pain of falling on the ground, the ecstasy jump, like embracing a lover, and embracing and rotating... Chen Yuyan is based on a dance-like way, based on the artistic expression of the unpopular, closely attached to the clothing lines of the human skin, sometimes madly twisted Sometimes, it is smooth and smooth, and it cuts through the boundaries of clothing and art through the cutting of clothing. Not good at words, he is silent, through clothing, repeating his own emotional practice on the female body; and this intimate but alienated distance, the audience only sees the performance of the show, but I don’t know that he is like a ballet dancer. The bitterness and faint pain of en pointe, or the loneliness of modern dancers.

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Photo Courtesy of SHAO YEN

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Photo Courtesy of SHAO YEN

Art is as natural as breathing. From the graduation works of Central Saint Martins in London, it is like a wave of tides; after the official establishment of the brand, it examines the different female images in the human body structure and society; and in the near future, it is inspired by the artist's works. Interpretation. In the fifth year of setting up the brand, Chen Yuyan’s strong artistic sense made him look at the London fashion industry, but it was also the reason for the low tide. It has been a move between art and business, and with the expectation that the society is shining, moving, and not too abrupt, the experiment is bound to experience a period of self-struggling and pulling.

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Photo Courtesy of SHAO YEN

This time we met in the Eastern District of Taipei.First coat lunchLet's talk with him about the journey and life of the brand.

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Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

. Remember that your studio was near New Cross in South London. I heard that you have recently moved, is new life still used to it?

Although I moved, I actually lived in the New Cross area because the old studio landlord had to sell it, so I moved to a new studio. Now the studio is in a court yard. Although the space is small, it is more intimate and feels much better than before. New Cross has an art university, Goldsmiths University, and a dance school. Young people like to come to the market, plus a studio for new artists or creators, and new developments and landmarks are being developed nearby. More and more lively. Here is the beginning of the development of East London, the future should also be transformed into a new place of art and culture.

. With nearly 13 years of living and working experience in London, do you still have the original curiosity about London?

It may be that I have lived for a long time now, and the place where my work or life will go is to fix those areas, but of course I still hope to get to know the places I have never had. London has changed a lot in the past ten years. I used to live in Hackney Road in East London for several years. At that time, East London was still very rough. Later, when I went back, I felt a different atmosphere. The store was quickly refurbished and there were luxury restaurants. As the city centre expands outwards, East London is now a new trend. The South London where I live now is also heading towards the development of East London at the time. Every day, you can feel that the city is constantly changing. Compared to the past, of course, it is not as exciting as the environment when I first came. I am now used to these changes.

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Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

. Where do you like to go when you are looking for creative inspiration?

I really like to watch exhibitions, like contemporary art or dance performances. My sister is a dancer, my aunt has a dance class, and my relatives often participate in dance performances. Although I have not learned it myself, I will jump along with it when I was young (laugh). Perhaps it is the influence of the family environment, which made me very interested in performing arts from an early age. I would like fashion design, and part of the reason is also related to my curiosity about the design of the stage scene. In the 1990s, there were many experimental and narrative fashion designers like Hussein Chalayan. Their presentations were very exciting. It is very attractive to present clothes in this way, which is why I have learned a lot about fashion design. These designers not only subverted the impressions of the former people on the clothing, but also found that the original clothing can tell the story in different ways.

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Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

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SS15 CANVAS Detail. Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

. Are there any special items that are particularly fascinating or inspiring?

I love to visit second-hand bazaars, whether it's a sightseeing market or a local market to buy a small market. Like the nearby Deptford Market flea market, or the antique market on Thursday at the Spitalfields Market in the east, and even the Greenwich market far from central London, I often go there. I am very interested in the big and small items in my life. In fact, I am not particularly interested in collecting anything. I just appreciate it, go shopping, and listen to the stories of sellers talking about them. It is currently collecting these items and stories into their heads (laughs).

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Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

Of course, if I can afford it, I will often buy a lot of small things that others will think "what do you buy?" even if you don't have enough money. Every time I am very interested in different things, just buying things that are too strange, like masks and so on. These collected themes may have originated from contact under a certain opportunity, and then they want to know more about its history or story, so they unwittingly collect a series of items of that theme (laughs). It’s all for a while. If you suddenly feel something about an item, you will pay special attention to that item. The same items are produced in different ways, materials and meanings in different ages, and the appearance and presentation of a variety of items is the most attractive place for me. I like to study the touch of various materials and materials. I also like second-hand clothes especially for small things.

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SS15 CANVAS Detail. Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

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SS15 CANVAS Detail. Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

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SS15 CANVAS Detail. Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

. Remember the experience of making clothes for the first time?

My first experience in making clothes was before I went to London to study in a private classroom in Taiwan. The most impressive thing is that I feel that I am doing a bad job (laughs), after all, I just started to contact. Later, I went to Central Saint Martins in London to read knitwear, and the first two years were actually full of setbacks. I didn't know that I would go into knitwear when I applied, and I just wanted to do my own fashion design. After entering the school, I found that there are many different fields in fashion design, such as print, menswear, womenswear or textile. At that time, the impression of knitwear was still stuck in the traditional wool stick (laugh). There are not as many new designers as there are now to extend the usage and change, and there are fewer brands that specialize in knitting. At first, because there is no relevant learning foundation, it is equal to starting from scratch, coupled with poor expression ability, all aspects have encountered many problems. Later, through the internship experience of other large and small brands, I learned a lot of knowledge and gradually built up my confidence.

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SS15 CANVAS Looks/ Photos Courtesy of SHAO YEN

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SS15 CANVAS Looks/ Photos Courtesy of SHAO YEN

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SS15 CANVAS Looks/ Photos Courtesy of SHAO YEN

. From 2010 to the present, you are no longer a cutting-edge designer, but you must also move toward the established designer brand. Is there a new understanding of the transition period of this brand transformation pattern?

This process is actually very difficult. Now that the SHAO YEN brand is at a middle point, I am no longer a cutting-edge designer, but the lack of all aspects is not an established brand. In the past two years, there have been ideas of rest, and I always want to wait for myself to reorganize before I set off, but in fact there will never be a time to prepare, so I decided to move on. After many years of establishing the SHAO YEN brand, many areas of improvement have been discovered as experience has accumulated. I have always been in the form of a brand in London that works with different freelance creators. But each cooperation takes time to extend, communicate, and run in. The unfixed way of cooperation makes SHAO YEN always lack something. Each stage of the brand has different challenges, and the way it is handled is different. Now this transition period gives me the opportunity to think about whether I can choose to go back to Taiwan, set up my own team in Taiwan, make SHAO YEN more complete, and give me time to focus on how to take the brand a step further.

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Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

. As a creator, from the start to the present, let you follow the creative spirit of the road?

I feel that the spirit of creative spirit is to do things that are of interest to you and important to you. The art and the hand-made aspect, this part is my primary consideration, and my work is different. Different from others, in addition to new accidents, understanding and focusing on what you are good at can extend the stimulation of more ideas. The history of clothing is almost as long as human history, and the changes or revolutions that have occurred in the past have already occurred. Nowadays, fashion design is like a reincarnation. From the previous things, it is extended, changed, or imagined in the future. Combining technology and new development technology of fabrics, we make a special attempt, the so-called "new possibilities." But apart from the difficulty of innovation in materials, it is not easy to find a good pattern maker or tailor. Most of the newcomers in the apparel industry are not familiar with this aspect and are not interested in it, resulting in a fault in manual technology and knowledge. This is a worrying phenomenon. The process of transferring a 2D idea into a 3D is actually very important. Some designers, like Raf Simons, will pull the team's pattern makers on the stage during the curtain call and enjoy the applause. Because of their existence and dedication, the work can be completed smoothly. Therefore, focusing on the process of hands-on production, I feel that it is a very important part of the spirit of practical creation.

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AW15 FLESH Lookbooks/ Photos Courtesy of SHAO YEN

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AW15 FLESH Lookbooks/ Photos Courtesy of SHAO YEN

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AW15 FLESH Lookbooks/ Photos Courtesy of SHAO YEN

. What is the most touching part of the creative process from inspirational thinking to design to hands-on production?

Because each time you create a series is not long, in the intensive period of the creative process, it is constantly reviewing, conceiving, and researching things related to the theme. For me, the most touching feeling should be the moment when you start to work, and when it is finally finished. In the new series of themes, the imagination space is very large, there will be a lot of inspiration; whether it is pictures, research materials or touch fabrics, new ideas will appear anytime, anywhere. Many blind spots and difficulties arise in the middle of execution, eliminating some ideas, adding new elements, etc... and then extending the essence of the design: solving the problem. Usually the final result will be different from the original imagination, but the difference is not necessarily bad. At the end, you look at the whole result, and see the clothes worn on the model-real body, with the effect of the makeup method, the heart is the touch of completion. If you look back at the work yourself, of course there will still be dissatisfaction or a better place, but it is also the driving force for you to move forward.

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Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

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Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

. From the first season to the recent Fall/Winter 2015 collection, you will be able to post live on the film, or shoot a story about the design theme. Why do you insist on recording or presenting in a film every season? What kind of medium is the film for you?

On the one hand, what you like very much about images, whether it is clothing or other fields of design, is closely related to visual communication. At the beginning, there are not so many resources, and the way the film is presented can express an idea or concept by means of music flow, screen editing, and body movements in a limited resource and in a very short time. I think that after all, clothing still needs people to wear, in order to express feelings and emotions; when the clothing line swings with the body movements, it conveys a feeling that is quite different from hanging on a hanger. In the past few years, there was no fund to run a show, so I chose the film to talk about the relationship or story between the costume and the person. Then, the film became a fixed way of expressing the SHAO YEN brand every season.

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AW13 STALKER Promotion Video

AW14 RIPPLE Promotion Video

. In addition to the series published by the same-name brand every season, you are also actively involved in many different areas of creator cooperation projects, like with film directors Penny Tu Photographed for SHOWstudio PUNK short filmAnd cooperation with the famous Icelandic musician Bjork. Are the creative processes of these projects different from the brand's series? What kind of inspiration is it for you?

In the series of branding, there will be a lot of pressure in the future; and working with creators in other different fields will make me jump away from the original imagination, not so boring. Sometimes the project of cooperation will have many limitations, but these restrictions will make each other's ideas have more impact and stimulate different things. In a situation where different ideas and guidelines are different, the process of making each other makes each other understand each other's needs. I regard this as a challenge, an opportunity to try, and sometimes even bring inspiration to my new series. In addition to the projects I have done so far, I also want to try out the cooperation related to the stage performances. From the stage of my show or presentation, it is not difficult to see the impact of the stage and the installation on me. Collaboration with the scene designer is like using a movie to express a story: constructing an environment, perhaps with background music, in a timely and short-lived moment, letting everyone quickly feel the story I want to say. With these elements, whether it is props, music, etc., it will be much easier than the clothes placed there.

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AW15 FLESH Presentation/ Photo Courtesy of SHAO YEN

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AW15 FLESH Presentation/ Photo Courtesy of SHAO YEN

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AW15 FLESH Presentation/ Photo Courtesy of SHAO YEN

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AW15 FLESH Presentation/ Photo Courtesy of SHAO YEN

. Since the establishment of the brand, you have a story or phenomenon that is particularly touching?

Clothing is an industry about appearance and beauty. In fact, everyone will selectively see the bright and beautiful side, and we are in the industry, of course, we hope that everyone can see the good side. But regardless of design or brand management, like other industries, most of them are very depressed. Over the past few years, the speed and form of the entire industry has changed beyond the past: big brands have published at least four seasons a year, and the Spring and Summer, Autumn and Winter series have Pre Fall and Resort series; plus the rise of High Street and Fast Fashion, this makes me think Slow down, look back at the Taiwan market, and think about the positioning of the brand transition stage just mentioned. On the one hand, it is impulsive, the power cannot be compared with the beginning, on the other hand, it is self-precipitation. The market is full of many brands, designers and clothes are everywhere, and it is a waste of disguise. It's too easy to have too many choices, and it's not so easy for people to appreciate. Fortunately, my family supported me very much along the way. These encouragement from family, friends and even the media is the reason why I insist on going on.

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Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

. Finally, please talk about the ideal life depicted in your heart.

I really want to buy a piece of land in Yilan. I have to build a house from nothing to get along with my family. I also hope that I can continue to do what I want to do on my own, so that the SHAO YEN brand will grow slowly.

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AW15 FLESH/ Image Courtesy of SHAO YEN

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AW15 FLESH/ Image Courtesy of SHAO YEN

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AW15 FLESH/ Image Courtesy of SHAO YEN

Quickly ask quickly:

– Like a cat or a dog? Dogs, cats are sometimes cold

– A recent book? Drifting classroom

– Indoor activities or outdoor sports? Indoor activities, I am very home

– What is your favorite day? at night

– Any door or time machine? Time Machine

– Where do you want to go this winter? Iceland

- Coffee or tea? Coffee bar, because I recently took a coffee ad (laugh)

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Photography/ Yun-Pin Chen

postscript:
Shining, moving, and not too abrupt experimental design, this is the public expectation of the fashion designer, and the way clothing designers are most likely to please the market. In the fifth year of establishing the brand, he walked through the low tide in the middle, trying to balance the commercialization and artistic performance. I still remember the release of Ripple in the fall/winter 2014 collection. I watched the presentation at Somerset House in London and knew that he had found his way. I was excited with another Hong Kong reporter on the sidelines. "Chen Yuyan is back!" An impulse to tears. Looking at his performance in these seasons, maybe he has not yet noticed it, but the low tide that he has gone through, I think this is the bitterness he must pass, re-converted into the soul and flesh of creation, for the commercial and artistic performance of clothing. Between, found a peaceful way of coexistence.

Want to know more, please see SHAO YEN website,FACEBOOK or Instagram

Special thanks:First coat lunch