Inside the Sensual World of Designer Yuhan Wang

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Yuhan Wang Laura Jane Coulson Claire de Rouen Books 2019
Yuhan Wang, 2018Photography by Laura Jane Coulson, Courtesy of Claire de Rouen Books

A new publication from Claire de Rouen Books sees the Fashion East designer’s work interpreted by photographer Laura Coulson

We’re used to seeing clothes fly by on the runway, but these instances offer only a fleeting glimpse into a designer’s world. This is especially true where emerging designers are concerned, since their visual languages aren’t yet as realised as those of more established houses. It’s part of what makes Claire de Rouen Books’ latest publication, a look inside the delicately sensual universe of London designer Yuhan Wang, so special.

Titled Yuhan Wang 2018, this book features Wang’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection – the Central Saint Martins graduate’s first to be presented as part of Fashion East – as seen by photographer Laura Jane Coulson and stylist Victoire Simonney. In fact, it was on the Fashion East catwalk that Wang’s work, with its yards of pearly satin and semi-sheer lace gathering and falling romantically about the body, first caught Coulson’s eye. “I loved that her clothes teased the body and alluded to sensuality,” she tells AnOther. Following an introduction from Fashion East founder Lulu Kennedy, a collaboration was born – Coulson shot the designer’s dresses in an editorial, which eventually culminated in this project, under the creative direction of Lucy Kumara Moore of Claire de Rouen Books and Bruce Usher.

“I really liked the way she created images by intimately connecting with the subjects,” says Wang of Coulson’s work. “As well as how she built stories from an emotional standpoint. I found it really appealing.” While the duo clearly share a connection, they’ve actually yet to meet – though Wang believes this was more of a help than a hindrance. “I simply explained the story of my woman and the initial ideas of my collection to Laura and Victoire so that they could set the tone for the story. At first, I was a bit regretful of not being there on the day of the shoot, but I later realised it was probably a good thing, as something unexpected would come of it, which is the most exciting part! I never expected that Laura would capture so much of the emotion visible in the eyes of the girls wearing my collection.”

The resulting book is printed in a limited edition of 50, with a signed handprint, and is available to purchase via Claire de Rouen from July 4. Across a series of glossy images, Laura illustrates Yuhan’s dreamscape through atmospheric portraiture, bathed in vivid hues – mustard yellow or forest green, for example – to create an almost otherworldly effect, or in black and white to offer an intimately candid take on her subjects. Complementing the images of the girls are bold, often blurred, close-ups of floral motifs, giving a clear voice to the marriage of romance, subtlety and strength that forms the foundation of Wang’s work.

“I wanted to create an instinctive interpretation of Yuhan’s world,” reflects Coulson. “When Yuhan told me about the inspiration for the collection, I loved the visual that was conjured, the idea of what goes on ‘behind the curtain’. I was quite happy to be able to work on making ‘pretty’ images, as I feel Yuhan’s work unashamedly lends itself to that without being sweet or sickly, there’s still a toughness there.”

Yuhan Wang, 2018, published by Claire de Rouen Books, is out July 4, 2019.