The Artist Archive: Shuqian Zhang
The Paris Mirror team sat down with four designers to discuss the topic of fashion and identity, gaining insight into contemporary fashion design in Paris. The below essay acts as an archival document, explaining and touring the ideas and inspiration of the Chinese designer Shuqian Zhang.
I came from the Shandong province of China. I had a great interest in drawing and painting in my childhood, and I was deeply influenced by my grandmother who was a tailor. I always drew down the patterns and let my grandmother sew, which became my origin of becoming a fashion designer. Then I moved to Beijing and went to a high school of art. I always attended various activities related to art, which enriched my knowledge about art and aesthetics. I learned fashion design at the Minzu University of China, which is a school that focuses on Chinese minority cultures, that is why my works have the characteristics that are always influenced by Chinese cultures. After I graduated from the university in 2017, I wanted to further my studies and ability, so I started to prepare for my learning in Paris.
Paris is a city filled with artistic feelings: it has its own history of art and fashion, abundant fashion-related resources, and so many great fashion designers here. I would like to study and experience myself in Paris, to get more inspiration and spiritual collisions, and enhance my professional skills.
I came to Paris in 2018, and I learned programme intensif and 3ème année in Institut Français de la Mode. After, I entered the master of créateur de la mode in Atelier Chardon Savard and I am currently in Master two. I’m currently having the maquettiste internship at Louis Vuitton. I think as a Chinese fashion designer in Paris, I should learn not only the classic and elegant design here but also about France's open, free and experimental spirit.
Through my learning in Paris, I gradually realized the most important thing of giving the noble sense to the clothes, its “skeleton”, which means the sloper and the pattern. As precise cut is the essential part of the beginning, I always use moulage way to help me to realize my desired style intuitively, so people may feel a sense of sculpture from my works. I want to create a kind of conceptual awareness, to integrate sculpture and art into fashion design. I use the attitude of making artworks to design my clothes, in order to catch the mind of a contemporary audience, who always pursue artistic aesthetic feelings. I will keep exploring and innovating in the way of design.
The idea of the theories came from my observation of flowers and rivers: swaying flowers in the wind and the overlapping flowers’ shadows in the sun; the running water with quietness, but with ripples also. This series mainly utilizes black, grey, and purple colors. Black represents the shadow, it’s silent, heavy, and superior. Grey helps to soften and enrich the layers. Abundant translucent textiles make the flowers’ shadow effect. Purple printing fabrics add modernity and energy to the series. In the clipping, I mainly focus on the design of the arcs, which weaken the seriousness of the black color, to let the whole feeling be more tender and closer to the topic.
The exquisite cutting and superior texture are what I pursued in this series. I made the connection between sculptures and shadows. I mixed these two “universes” together by developing composite fabric and doing creative cutting. Flowers’ overlapping shadows appear in the sunshine, curving cutting is like a blooming flower. Translucent and shiny textiles are rippling during people’s walk, like a sparkling river, it’s poetic and glorious.
In my mind, Paris is an inclusive city. It allows the existence of multiple cultures and various artistic styles. But I also believe that the traditional design of Paris is precious, I can still feel the charm of it now.