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Yuhan Wang's debut London Fashion Week show drew inspiration from traditional Chinese ideas of femininity


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The debut show from emerging designer Yuhan Wang kicked off London Fashion Week this morning with a collection which sought to honour Victorian rituals of mourning and funeral ceremonies. 

“Young, strong-minded women prepared for death in life,” said the designer before the show. “That foresight is invaluable in cherishing life in the now.” 

Drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese ideas of femininity and its connections to Western culture, key to her beautifully melancholic vision were Sunday Best coats and frayed fishtail skirts worn with neatly fitted blazers, which were described by the designer as walking suits. These were decorated with black lace appliqués, sourced sustainably from deadstock fabric, while her signature ruched satin dresses were printed with hand-drawn rosebud, goldfish and water grass motifs. 

“The goldfish represents prosperity and health. Flowers represent vitality,” said the designer. 

(Chris Yates/ Chris Yates Media )

A water lily motif also appeared on a short pile fake fur dressing gown coat, while several models wore hats veiled in black lace and others wore fake tears.

The sombre undertone of her debut showcase was also reflective of a wider global mood in relation to the devastating impact of Coronavirus on the designer’s homeland. 

(Chris Yates/ Chris Yates Media )

I’m hugely saddened by what’s happening,” said Wang, who originates from the seaport province of Weihai, China and studied fashion at Tsinghua University in Beijing before moving to London.

“I’m impacted personally – some of our hand embroidery is done in China and much of the collection hasn’t been delivered in time – but of course none of that really matters. It’s all put into perspective when you consider the way others have been impacted. People’s mobility being impacted, and of course lives being lost anywhere… it’s heartbreaking. All I can hope is that effective solutions can be found to address suffering”

But in spite of her sadness, Wang was “thrilled” to top the bill at London Fashion Week. Having previously showcased her work under the emerging design talent initiative Fashion East and interned at British design luminary JW Anderson, the rising star also praised the capital and its melting pot of talent as a constant source of inspiration. 

London’s where I studied and grew – it’s nourished me. The diversity and sense of heritage has had a profound impact on the way I design. There’s also a real sense of character which London does like nowhere else.”

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