SA: What made you decide to go into fashion design?
Ying Yuan: When I was 8, I’d always loved making dresses for my doll. One time I cut up an old jump suit that didn’t fit me anymore and made it into a dress for myself. Lots of my friends and family commented on how beautiful it was. Later that year, I was asked to give a speech at my school and used the opportunity to announce that I wanted to be a fashion designer. In China at the time, only 1 in 33 people could get into Uni, so you had to work very hard academically and basically forget about anything artistic or creative. It wasn’t until I had my second son that I started to look at life differently. As a full time mum I began to think about my purpose in life, so when it was time to go back to work I decided I needed to pursue my childhood dream and my passion for fashion design was reignited.
SA: What has inspired this collection?
Ying Yuan: This range was inspired by my trip to Paris in Winter at the beginning of 1999. For me, Paris is the most romantic city in the world but it has a sadness and loneliness. It has a dark side and so much history behind it. It feels to me like the city is haunted by the spirits of those amazing artists of the past that I’d heard and read about. It makes me think about what happened to all those people that made history and what it was like for them. When ever you look, it’s like a scene from a movie. The music on the street or in the underground is always so touching. All the stories, books and novels that I’d read seemed to come to life. But despite all of these amazing experiences, towards the end of the trip what’s really left? And this is a metaphor for life too. All you have at the end is fragments of memories. Like a mosaic, they piece together the whole journey into a fluid discontinuity.
SA: The fabrics you prefer to work with? why?
Ying Yuan:As a designer, Im in favour of natural fibre. It’s much more comfortable to wear good quality fabrics. Silks also give garments a luxurious feel and handle. My range is really focused on tailoring; I use pure silk, wools and wool blends to enhance the structure of the design. I love to use leather as well, because my designs always have a hard edge to them and I feel leather is a great way to express that aspect of my designs.
SA: Who has been one of your biggest inspirations in the fashion industry?
Ying Yuan:Alexander McQueen because he was the most innovative fashion designer of our time, although in some ways he was beyond that. Fashion was his media but often what he created transcended fashion. He was an artist and activist who used fashion as a tool to express his views and draw attention to what he felt was most important and raise public awareness of these issues no matter how confronting.
Dion Lee is no doubt my favourite Australian fashion designer because his designs are original and innovative and I can appreciate his clean, sleek aesthetic. His sports tailoring is very suitable for the Australian climate and style.
SA: Your favourite fashion piece you have created?
Ying Yuan:My favourite is the winged-lapel tuxedo jacket. I love tailoring and this is a very sharp tailored piece. Nothing can show off a tailored technique more than a jacket. I love this jacket because it keeps all of the traditional tailoring technique but its very innovative and also very contemporary. Construction wise, the jacket doesn’t have side seams (I spent an entire month pattern making this single piece). All of the panels are designed to follow the anotomical shape of a woman, so the result is that the jacket has a beautiful fit and is very flattering. It’s tailored to fit around a woman’s body. The beautiful Italian wool has a satin finish, it looks and feels so luxurious. The beauty with this jacket is that from any angle you look at, its very sculptured and edgy, and yet it’s very feminine and sexy at the same time.