A champion of the domestic Chinese fashion industry and market, as well as a secured spot at Shanghai Fashion Week for, what we can only hope, many years to come. What’s another few international runways, right?
Her eponymous label UMA WANG only launched a few short years ago, back in 2005, and took ownership of the Milan FW runway in 2013. Her predominately neutral-shaded collection won over the biggest names in the industry.
Wang is notorious for her knowledge and use of textiles- which is really important to keep in mind when viewing her collections. Initially, her designs may seem some what….dark and shapeless …but in this case, it is more about the use and personality of the fabrics than the objective vision of the line.
As a student of the industry, Wang first graduated from China Textile University and then attended Central Saint Martins, in pursuit of her advanced degree for fashion design. Beginning with a role in costume design for numerous school plays as an adolescent, many peers recognized Wang’s inherent talent, way before her time. She worked as an in-house designer at a Chinese brand for 10 years, before launching her own line in 2005.
At one point, an employer sent Wang to observe a factory in China in order to learn the knitwear trade. This is where Wang received her hands-on knowledge and experience in fabrics and materials, machinery and the functional steps to producing a Ready-to Wear product. Her work-much of it hand sewn- has been strikingly described as ” textural landscapes that manage to communicate both strength and fragility.”
As a child raised in China during the ‘70’s and 80’s, Wang was exposed to a much more traditional China than we know today. She was exposed to more traditional practices and methodologies.
“As a child, in northern China, I would spend hours watching my father prepare medicines by using different ingredients, almost like a wizard. Today, when I go to the weaving factories and when with experts I create new combinations to create fabrics, I feel a bit like him. I also use tons of colors, I combine them and mix them until finding the gradation I was looking for”.
I, myself, grew up with a father working in the textile industry. He explained the industry as a mish mash of a business. Dip some here, dip some there. Once you become skilled in the process, creating fabrics can be similar to cooking a meal or painting a piece of art. It’s about measuring the balance of the ingredients. Once you can do this, then you become the master of your desired skill.
Wang’s ideas almost always begin with color and texture, and from there proceeds according to her creative instinct.
Utilizing her extraordinary resources and learning from fellow Chinese designers, Wang perfected her skills and has become a leader in the Chinese fashion industry by consistently bringing designs to the market that are not only of high quality but also balance high fashion with functionality.
Her studies abroad were in pursuit of gaining a perspective on the industry from outside of China. By means of her peers, students and the internet, Wang was and is able to collect all sorts of information as well as valuable, multifaceted inspiration. Initially, just as all of her predecessors, Uma looked to the west, namely Paris and Milan, to stir her creativity. But, again, just as her predecessors and even successors have come to realize, as a Chinese designer, she comes from a very rich culture and in that alone, there is much to be valued.
Taoist philosophy plays a large part into why her collections’ silhouettes are the way they are.
“A true feminine beauty is represented in moving like the wind, and being still as water.”
This is why all traditional dresses were worn loose and oversized, allotting for the freedom of movement. In Taoist belief, freedom of movement unleashes mental pressure, which in turn maintains the harmony between body and soul.
( I must admit, I feel a much greater sense of clarity when wearing loser fabrics. On behalf of all women, thank god for the man-tailored trend currently sweeping the world)!
Wang has been notarized and touted for as one of the top designers in China by both Vogue and the CFDA. Online chronicle, The Business of Fashion, has also listed her as one of the Top 20 most influential people in the Chinese fashion industry.
Upon rising to fame initially in Shanghai, she was recognized for her extreme talents and selected by Swatch for a designer collaboration shortly after winning the Audi Progressive Designer Award back in 2011.
(See below for more details on this collaboration.)
She showcased her catwalk collections at London, Paris, and Milan fashion weeks and in addition to receiving the Audi Progressive Designer Award, she was also awarded the Beijing CCDC Best Designer award in 2010 as well as the Shanghai Fashion Week award for the finest craft and best creativity.
Whew, that was a mouthful. But wait, there’s more……
In 2012 she was also selected as the first Chinese designer to take part in the inaugural CFDA/ China Exchange program, where she met with several high profile industry insiders such as Anna Wintour and companies like Google, gaining significant exposure to the western market-on and off line-and the American fashion industry.
Employing the runway as a catalyst for her creativity and culture, global catwalks have witnessed some serious talent.
I would like to draw special attention to her Spring/Summer 2012 collection. I personally feel that it pays real tribute to her abilities as a designer. It lends an eye into her genius tailoring and draping techniques. They are exquisite, and quite honestly, breath taking. ( For full disclosure- and trust me you want it- click on that link above).
In Spring/Summer 2014, Wang presented a collection heavily reflective of her heritage and native Chinese culture. Her choice of fabrics resulted in lightweight, layers processed from Chinese paper but manufactured in Italy- which is somewhat ironic since paper was originally discovered in China.
The motif of the S/S 2014 collection was presented as a reflection of the ocean waves crashing along the shoreline. See below to experience the collection for yourself!
As for her up and coming Fall/Winter 2014 pieces, she painted the collection with colours outside of her usual range- dabbling in reds, black, browns and greys- distancing herself from the typical neutral story, hoping to embrace some of the colors from her native culture.
In all of her presentations, Wang strives to maintain a style suggestive of the Chinese traditional expression of sexy- subdued and non-racy- no mid drifts, no minis.
“Being sexy is not about showing off the shape. It’s a very soft way to let people decide what is sexy.”
I think you get the point…no?