Yifang Wan is described by her PR and good friend Roxanne Chen as a "great talent", having been awarded the Loreal Professional Young Designer Award at Central St Martin's BA Fashion Degree Show, securing a place on the MA Fashion Design Womenswear course and showcasing her collections at London Fashion Week, this is definitely a very true statement. It's obvious that Yifang is really proving her amazing potential as a fashion designer, while others can only dream. Her simplistic and effortlessly elegant aesthetic, with low key elements of martial art and sculpture, make Yifang's designs extremely covetable and IDOL is excited to see more from this young, new designer in the very near future. Yifang talks of her achievements, designs and plans for the future.
YOU HAVE ALREADY ACHIEVED MUCH, BEING AWARDED THE LOREAL PROFESSIONAL YOUNG DESIGNER AWARD AND HAVE SHOWCASED COLLECTIONS AT LONDON FASHION WEEK. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ALL YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS?
Well, I just keep on going and I didn't really expect an award or anything, I just worked really hard on my collection and each project and dedicated a lot of time and energy to them.
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR YOUR S/2 2013 COLLECTION?
It was a development from my MA collection for Central St Martins, it's very sculptural and minimalistic, with elements from martial art. It's very violent in a quiet way and very minimal. I try out a lot of patterns to achieve the different shapes.
WHAT IS YOUR AESTHETIC?
I always want to make the clothes really effortless, in a way but I obviously consider every detail and all the lines and shapes.
WHAT WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS?
I did a lot of trial and research to achieve the end result and shape. I was still changing and tweaking my designs until the last minute, just going through the whole process of putting different ideas together.
DO YOU HAVE A DESIGNER WHOM YOU FOLLOW OR LOOK UP TO?
I have always really liked Martin Mason Margiela, all his designs are really conceptual and beautiful.
WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOU WANTED TO BECOME A FASHION DESIGNER, WAS IT ALWAYS THE PATH YOU WANTED TO FOLLOW?
I think I just happened to be in the fashion industry, because I was studying management and then I got experience with 'a fashion company and it was the first place where I could really see everything about design. I then i realised how much I really liked design and so I went to Central St Martins to study on a design course. I always liked art and design, so I was quite in to it from an early age, but i didn't really imagine that I could ever be a designer. I thought I would be a painter actually.
IS THERE STILL AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO DO ART OR HAVE YOU MOVED ON FROM THAT AND WANT TO STICK TO BEING A DESIGNER?
Now I'm really into sculpting things, since I made my accessories for my Spring/Summer 2013 collection. I think I would do sculpture, lifestyle and industry designs at some point.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS TIME?
I want to be a designer, but not necessarily just in fashion, I'll probably bring other things into it. I would really love to have a incorporation with some artists and other designers, maybe doing accessories and jewellery. But yeah, I would see myself as a designer, but not necessarily your typical fashion designer.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF WITH YOUR OWN FASHION LABEL, IF SO WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT?
Yes I want my own label. My fashion label would without a doubt be my name. I really hope one day I could have my own shop.
WHERE DO YOU STORE YOUR DESIGNS/ COLLECTIONS?
I pack all my projects and collections I've completed away, because that's the way I work. I had a long process of researching design, drawings and choosing fabrics. So when I decided to start pattern cutting, I set up a desk in my house, I mean if I need space for my work, I look for space, but I don't think it is worth spending money when I'm still in the process of doing research, as I don't think i really need much space. Roxanne is my friend and she's looking after my PR, so if I wanted i could put some clothing in her studio. I think it's the best way to work in terms of cost for young designers, because it is expensive to keep your designs elsewhere.
IF YOUR HOUSE WAS BURNING DOWN WHAT WOULD YOU RESCUE?
Well, I don't think I would rescue anything (laughs). Just myself. Because I always feel that you can start a fresh on brand new things , every time I finish a project I feel like there is always something I could improve. I wouldn't feel any major loss if my old designs were burnt. I always remember when i did my first major project, I was buying a coffee and put my bags down and I spilt coffee over it, that was quite upsetting at the time , but then I thought maybe it's good that I can start a fresh and think of something even better than before. If anything happened to my designs now, I always have my online site for my collection, so it's not a disaster.
ARE YOU INVOLVED IN ANYTHING COMING UP SOON?
I'm doing another collection for Autumn/ Winter 2013, which i'm showcasing at London Fashion Week, I'm still in discussion as to where I'm going to show my collection, I haven't decided yet what I want to do, but i'm sure I will have another collection. I'm thinking about similar ideas as I did for my last collection, I still feel the same about who I am as a designer and I will still keep the sculptural accessories. I'm still collecting different materials to see which i would prefer to use, but I really like using natural fabric like cotton, it's easier to shape. I always look for light fabric, but it has some weight as well so that it can drape really well.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER ASPIRING DESIGNERS?
To keep an open mind. Everything is competitive, but I think the most important thing is that you have to find yourself, you have to know who you are as a designer, what you like, what you dislike. Because when I was at Central St Martins, my aesthetic was for different things and then my tutor told me that, so that I would see my true potential.
CAN YOU SEE A CHANGE IN THE WORK YOU PRODUCED AT CENTRAL ST MARTINS TO THE DESIGNS YOU ARE CREATING NOW?
I feel as though it is a development, I did have certain ideas, but I've developed and simplified them. I think it's a process and it's all about concepts.
DID YOU GAIN EXPERIENCE THROUGH AN INTERNSHIP IN THE INDUSTRY?
I did some internships, I went to Preen, I learnt a lot from that because they showed me how to trace patterns and taught me to see how the patterns worked, so I saw the combination of patterns and colours and could see how they were created, so I think that was particularly useful skill to learn.
DO YOU EVER HAVE A FREE MOMENT TO TAKE TIME OUT?
Not really, because at the moment I am just one person doing all of this. I'm always doing something, especially as I have to showcase another of my collections in just February which isn't long at all.
DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD EVER WANT TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR DESIGNS?
I never really have a spare moment to think, but for now I'm going to just focus on London for the next three years and then maybe after that I will travel, the seasons come so quickly so I'll have to see.
IS THERE A MANTRA YOU LIVE BY?
I've never really thought about it. I guess if I want to do something, i want to do it to the best of my ability, I don't really have any plans or expectations, it's just if someone gives me work or I have something to do, I want to make it perfect.
Words by Olivia Todd