Shao-Yen Chen, Future Fashion Part Five

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Film still of the Shao Yen Chen collection
Film still of the Shao Yen Chen collectionFilm shot by Ben Toms, styling by Cathy Edwards

Central Saint Martins graduate Shao-Yen Chen's all-white final MA show was influenced by his hometown of Yilan in Taiwan. Chen’s designs show the places that swatch experimentation can take you...

Central Saint Martins graduate Shao-Yen Chen's all-white final MA show was influenced by his hometown of Yilan in Taiwan. Chen’s designs show the places that swatch experimentation can take you. Chen created an absorbing and innovative collection, forming his cloud-like creations out of cashmere, nylon strings, synthetic yarns and lycra, .

What were the ideas behind your MA collection?
This collection was developed from a short film I made last summer, which was filmed by the sea near my hometown in Yilan, Taiwan. I was inspired by the quality and movement of sea waves and wanted to represent that in my knitwear collection. I tried to play with different materials and layers to create textures and volume. I also drew inspiration from 70s fur coats and African tribal costumes for the silhouettes of the garments.

How would you describe your style to someone who doesn't know your work?
I would say my work is about textures and forms. I like to combine traditional knitting techniques with unusual materials.

What made you decide to get into fashion? Have you always been interested in it?
I first got interested in fashion in the late 90s, when I was in high school. Japanese designers like Miyake, Yamamoto and Kawakubo were very big in Taiwan. Their work changed the way I look at fashion, and I’ve been interested in it ever since.

Can you take us through your design and construction process?
I usually start off with a concept for the collection, and then I will go through a long process of finding the right materials, making swatches, and experimenting with them. Then I play around with the position and proportion of the swatches on the mannequin and decide how to finish and join the pieces together. And the last stage is actually making the garments.

Do you have anyone in mind when you are designing?
I usually think of models I like and imagine how they will look on a catwalk or in editorials. When I saw Tilda Swinton on the cover of AnOther, I really wished that that they were my clothes she was wearing. Her performance in the editorial was so inspirational.

Do you have a favourite design of yours?
Probably the third look from my MA collection. I like the proportion and it balances well. But it is only my second collection; I think I could have done better.

What is your proudest achievement in your career so far?
I was very excited to know that Björk has worn one of my garments and liked it. I couldn't believe it at first. It was too good to be true.

Who in the industry would you most like to collaborate with?
I love Jane How's style and Juergen Teller's photography. It would be great to work with them.

Who are your favourite designers?
At the moment, Raf Simons, Riccardo Tisci, Francisco Costa and Haider Ackermann.

What are you referencing for your next collection?
Human anatomy and surrealism; the collection will contain elements from my last season, but with new techniques.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Working on collections and shows of my own, and hopefully not needing to worry about money any more.

On the website we do a segment called AnOther Loves. What's one thing you're loving right now?
These New Puritans’s first album Beat Pyramid; their music is so intense and full of energy. It makes me want to move.

Interview by Holie Lacayo

See our animated fashion story featuring pieces from Nathalie Froyden’s collection in Exclusives. And read interviews with the five other designers here.