If there is any designer whom I would take my hats off to, it would be YIQING YIN.
The 27-year-old Beijing-born Haute Couturier, who was here in town last week for the showcase of her couture collection at the French Couture Week 2012 by Fidé Fashion Weeks, was brought up in Paris since the age of four.
At the show, she has wowed the crowd with an incredibly impacting collection that weaved fur, beadings, intensive pleating and of course, draping in a brilliantly cascading manner. All in all, the remarkable execution in her design really touched the hearts of many and pushed boundaries like never before.
There is seriously no way that anyone can deny of what a remarkable talent Yiqing is, for she has found her success and calling so quickly since graduating from school two years ago.
Her undying and unwavering passion for fashion, topped with intensive hours of hardwork in her craft has catapulted her to a place where every designer dreams to be – that is, to be part of the very exclusive Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture as a guest member and to present on the official haute couture calendar. If that’s not evident enough, one can also note that she is one of the youngest Haute Couturier in the organisation.
With an aim to create garments that protect and reinforce like a second skin for the wearer, Yiqing YIN is nonetheless here to create not another spectacle piece, but rather, to build an intimate relationship with her wearer and foster ties that no other garments can.
While we might go on and on just raving about our love for her unmistakable talent and defining approach to design, we managed to catch up with her over coffee and to talk more about her collection just right after her showcase last Friday!
Hi Yiqing, congratulations on your outstanding showcase yesterday! How do you feel now that your show is over?
YIQING: “I felt really good actually, and I think the models who wore my clothes were really good!”
So tell us a bit more about yourself, how did you decide to be a fashion designer in the first place?
YIQING: “I can’t really decide initially so I went to an art and crafts school where I get to learn many things, which include sculptures, drawings and photography, I basically got to experiment with every kind of medium.
And when I came across fabrics, I really fell in love with it and kept on doing that where I kept a very sculptured approach to it, in terms of garment construction and garment design.
So all in all, it’s very much like sculpting, but on the body.”
What is the inspiration and story behind your collection because I realized that you’ve actually implemented a fur vest and a lot of dresses with chiffon that are on bias-cut.
YIQING: “The collection is titled ‘Spring of Nüwa’ which refers to the goddess of creation.
The images that inspire me were those of very lively transforming nature, from the different elements of minerals to vegetal aspects of life and also, very much of the human anatomy.
Halfway while researching on human and animal anatomy, I was very much inspired by the architecture within the body functions and systems. I even looked at skeletons and fossils.
In my fur pieces especially, I’ve played around with the different elements and materials within the fur to retain the wild and primitive aspects to it.”
Your theme itself is indeed quite strong and wild, but why did you do your creations in such a soft and gentle way?
YIQING: “My mood board itself is always very dark and scary. I have pictures of corpses, medical research and some very weird, disgusting things on it too, which makes up for interesting inspirations for my collection.
I translate them into the graphics, elements, and volume in terms of three-dimensional shapes that intrigue me. Of course in the end, everything needs to be watered down to the woman’s proportions whilst bringing out the beauty of the female body.
All in all, there’s nothing violent at all.”
You must have collected quite a few specimens for your research then!
YIQING: “Yes, I have collected quite a few at the beginning of my collection, especially during the conceptual stage. There were no dead bodies though! (laughs). I do have skulls of animals that I’ve found and also a collection of dead insects such as scorpions, spiders and butterflies where I study the anatomy and incorporate the details to my designs in an indirect manner.”
One of the most prominent features of your collection that struck me is how you have played around with a lot of back details.
YIQING: “Yes, that is very important for me. To me, when a woman turns around, she has to leave an impression. And for men, when they look at women, they look at them from behind. So it’s very important to make a lasting impression.
The front, on the other hand, can be very simple, and if you have a cutout back, it is very erotic and very sexual.”
The clothes that you create are meant to serve as an amour for the woman. Tell us more about that and how is that so?
And at present moment, I find that some of the designs in the market are very masochistic and they always put the woman in a cage whereas I try to sculpt something fluid around her, which is like a second skin and a soft amour.
The shapes of my design are structured, but they are of very soft materials and they show a paradox in which they highlights a woman’s sensuality, fragility and at the same time, they also empower her because there is something very raw about it.”
How would you describe the wearer of YIQING YIN?
YIQING:“She can be any kind of woman, no matter whether she’s young or old or where she comes from. In terms of character, she is someone who is not afraid to express her singularity through her clothes that she wears and also in objects that she chooses to surround her and to build her life.Everything around her is chosen for a purpose and she is someone who knows what she wants and knows how to use elements to communicate her identity.
She is a confident woman who can be paradoxical; she can be very feminine, very seductive but very strong.”
What is your philosophy when creating clothes?
YIQING: “I don’t have a trend or stylistic philosophy. My process of work is very instinctive. I mostly make a few sketches, a little mostly on proportion, but I use my inspiration and mood to base my designs on.
I do most of my creations upon the mannequin where I drape a lot in three-dimensional form. From there, I would use different experiments to find a silhouette and then followed by the pattern.
But the starting point is always directly on the fabric and mannequin.”
So amongst all the numerous techniques that you’ve used, which one in particular is your favorite?
YIQING: “I love draping because I can do everything I want and it allows for creative freedom. There is a lot of potential and accidents.”
We know that some of the most accidental things actually result in the most beautiful things.
YIQING: “Yes, sometimes. It is the most surprising and it also is very magical!”
In your show yesterday, we were very intrigued by the cage dress that you’ve sent out as the finale look in your collection. Tell us more about it.
YIQING: “It is a structured cage dress that is made entirely out of corset bones, which we covered with pheasant, peacock and goose feathers, one by one.
At the Haute Couture Symposium, you’ve talked about how couture actually gives you the opportunity to explore, experiment and build your DNA that will inevitably translate a strong image of your style to your ready-to-wear.
Can you elaborate more about this and in what way specifically?
YIQING: “During this couture week, I’ve showcased a lot of experimental and strong showpieces that make for good pictures and good press opportunities.
From the collection, I would then make a selection and re-edit the collection into something that I can put in the showroom during the ready-to-wear week, and turn them into ready-to-wear apparels.”
So you would still retain the style of your couture pieces into these ready-to-wear apparels?
YIQING: “Yes, I would dilute the style into real products. So what actually comes in stores would be very close to the couture pieces that you see on the runway.”
How do you feel about reaching to where you are right now in such a fast manner?
YIQING: “To tell you the truth, I didn’t really decide that and everything just happened very naturally for me. I didn’t even have the time to think if I wanted to do that or not.
For me, when opportunities come my way, I have to grab them or I might regret them. Since I’ve started out two years ago, I have grabbed every single opportunity that was thrown at my face.”
Do you feel stressed, and how do you deal with it?
YIQING: “Yes, it’s very tough and stressful. Being part of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture is a big pressure too. But I love it and seriously, I could sacrifice everything in my life and I work 20 hours a day since two years and I love it.
Basically, it’s my passion that keeps me going and since I have this energy today, I think it’s a good time to show that I can do it. I may not have that much experience, but I try to make up for it with my patience, determination, common sense and maybe a little bit of craziness.
What’s important is that I know I’ve tried my best, gave everything that I could and was sincere about it.”
What would be the next step for you?
Is there a designer, in particular whom you really admire for his/her works?
YIQING: “I love the works of Madeleine Vionett. She basically invented contemporary designs through the use of bias cuts.
She’s practically the queen of draping, simplicity and her garments delves greatly on sensuality and comfort. Madeleine Vionett also liberated the body of the woman and showed a very modern approach to fashion.”
Backstage at Yiqing YIN Couture Show at French Couture Week 2012
How does it feel to be the youngest Haute Couturier in the show and to be showcasing alongside veteran couturiers?
YIQING: “I’m very happy and honored, but I also feel pressured because I have to live up to the standards of such a great heritage, especially to the people who voted me in like the houses of Chanel, Gaultier and Givenchy.
They are like the keepers of the traditional heritage of couture, be it the values and craftsmanship, so it’s like a really big thing to have to perform not to their level, but at least to honor the same values and heritage.”
How does living in Paris bring about new inspirations?
YIQING: “When you live in a city like Paris, fashion is everywhere in the streets and is moving everyday, so it is very easy to be inspired. Even how the people in Paris dresses inspire me greatly.”
How do you think you can change the mindset of most consumers who think that couture is just a spectacle, and to convince them that there is much more than that?
YIQING: “To me, I think that the best way to illustrate that is when most consumers buy high street fashion these days, what you get is something that is so mass-produced and something that many people have it, so there is no affection involved.
On the other hand, when consumers buy a piece of my couture gowns, they are actually buying the values and mindset that is custom to only them only, and I think that is a very intimate thing to the wearer. So it is definitely worth it.”
To conclude, which word would you use to sum up your design style?
YIQING: “Paradox! (Another word can also be ‘Grace’)”
Here’s a photo of our interview with Yiqing YIN (Left) at TWG Marina Bay Sands
Million thanks to Yiqing YIN for the wonderful interview!
We can’t wait to witness the launch of her ready-to-wear line which will be available in stores such as Joyce in Hong Kong and Saks 5th Avenue in New York.
Backstage and Runway Photos: Felly Loi (Couture Troopers)