In a conversation involving architecture and Daphne Guinness, Haizhen delves into the inspirations behind his collection, just days before it’s set to bring the catwalk to life.
What inspired your collection?
The starting point was architecture and the Spanish born architect Santiago Calatrava. The garments are based on his structures, the clean lines, the shadows, the contrasts between structure and material, light and dark, space and form. The materials I used contrasted too, like using polyester with PVC. I also combined influences from Japanese samurai armoury. Not necessarily the shape and form, but the details and embroidery of the actual armour, such as pins and asymmetrical composition as well as the use of colour. There’s also elements of proportion on the body and the garments developed around all of that.
Starting this off though, what do you do to begin the process?
Well, here it started with architecture books. I was looking at all these lines and light. The lines are quite masculine but because it’s womenswear I wanted symmetry as well. So it became all about the shapes and squares and the patterns on the body. You can see contrasts from the front and back views of the body, as well as from the side.
Do you design with anyone in mind?
I try to draw a picture of the woman I’d like to see wearing my clothes. Daphne Guinness, I like her style, the way she dresses, her hair, I can imagine that would be the woman. I don’t want to draw a line though with any particular person. I try to have a wide range of women, I like expanding the possibilities and keeping it open to whoever likes my designs.
Did you always want to be in fashion?
Yes. The day I decided to come to the UK, I made my decision. I used to be in interior design at high school but I came out of it. I came to England and realised I could use my skills to get me a place on an MA at Saint Martin’s. I studied a BA in Fashion Design at the London College of Fashion and after two years there, I finished the BA and I was lucky enough to get a place on Womenswear at Central Saint Martins.
You said you were in interior design, so do you feel your architectural inspiration has come from that?
Possibly. There must be something related, especially for this season, but I mean inspiration can come from different sources. A market, garments, a picture, someone walking down the street. They’re all quite different so it depends.
What about the future of the label?
I obviously want to continue the label. I have to think about the promotional part of it, the buyers, but over the next two years, I want to expand.