CookiesWe use cookies to make it easier for you to browse our website. If you, as a user, visit our website, it is our understanding that you are granting your consent to the use of cookies. You may obtain more information on cookies and their use hereOK
Oriens dares to tear up the rule book, to push boundaries and reexplore dimensions which few have traversed before; through her label, New-York based designer Shirley Tang seeks to strip back often complex concepts such as female sensuality and space to their purest form and refine them in a liberating state.

When asked about the inspiration behind the name of her label Oriens, Shirley Tang described it as “a revisiting to the Latin roots of 'Orientalism', shedding its complex cross-cultural negotiations and imposed fantasies to return to a place of purity.” Continuing to draw from this root, she reflected on its alternative interpretation as the “visual, action-based imagery of the sun rising from the horizon,” and how “It depicts a movement forward and upwards, extending past the horizon line in both directions between night and day, past and present, constantly moving into the future in rebirth.” The complex notions layered within her designs allows her to dismantle predetermined ideals and reconstruct them using a refreshing perspective. This is artfully translated through her work which makes for playful and unique pieces which are both innovative and daring.

Shirley, could you tell us a bit about your journey both as a fashion student and a designer?
I started in Parsons in 2018 to pursue my BFA Fashion degree with a focus in womenswear. I feel like my design identity started taking shape towards the end of my second semester of Sophomore year, which is coincidentally when the pandemic hit and the world retreated into solitude. Oriens was developed mostly in those times, out of my home in Vancouver where I converted the living room into my sewing studio, because there really was nothing else I would rather do with that long expanse of time. I started with some interest for commission-based works on my existing designs and evolved into creating made to order pieces and customs in collaboration with stylists and clients. It was both a very private practice, run almost entirely by me, but also very rooted in interaction and community, especially virtually. This year I decided to return to Parsons to further my exploration and expand my concepts, carrying Oriens with me in this evolution - my next year’s thesis works will be a full evolutive exhibition of that, although I think that will remain a milestone rather than a definitive end goal.
Your label Oriens was originally established as part of a project at the Parsons School of Design; how did it transform into the label that it is today?
I started Oriens as an online documentation of my works from the last semester of Sophomore year as the world retreated into isolation and myself too with my work. [It was] a way of solidifying what I started to feel was a clarity within my own vision and inspirations. It was a way to share and connect from solitude, but I was surprised at the extent it connected to people, first friends then strangers and other artists, as my work evolved past its original intentions with my continued design evolutions during my year off from Parsons. I think that connectivity definitely was, and still is, a huge driving force - I create from internal motivations, but there is definitely a sense of thrill in being a part of something bigger than me, whether an editorial, music video or for an individual client, and the many requests for variations and customs really propelled me forward to evolve my ideas.
With your focus on womenswear coupled with your sensually explorative designs, do you reflect on how you see yourself as a woman? How is this translated into your designs?
I think sensuality is simultaneously individual and interactive. It can be found in an internal mindset, a corporeality, a tactile sensation of wearing, but also in the way you enter and explore the social world. There is definitely a sense of power in that too, both internal and social. I think my own idea of 'womaness' and sensuality is very much shifting, with my own experiences exploring sensuality in myself, in private, with a partner, in fitting and experiencing my own garments, and in the way I govern my outward appearance and interactions certainly [is] feeding into my work. Sensuality is very much real and embodied. I often wear my own pieces out into the world, and it’s fascinating to see the shifts in perception by the way you direct the outside gaze to different spaces of your body, and that external feedback makes my concepts and thoughts very real and physical.

The name of your label is derived from the Latin word Orient, with multiple meanings with the principal interpretations being “the east” and “the rising sun.” What meaning of Orient does your label pull from?
The name actually emerged from explorations prompted by a Junior Year project exploring family heirlooms and artifacts and I named that project “Oriens” as a revisiting to the Latin roots of “Orientalism”, shedding its complex cross-cultural negotiations and imposed fantasies to return to a place of purity.
I think this shedding of externally imposed meanings and restrictions is definitely relevant to what I explore still, especially in the ideas of female sensuality, but I was also fascinated with this visual, action-based imagery of the sun rising from the horizon. It depicts a movement forward and upwards, extending past the horizon line in both directions between night and day, past and present, constantly moving into the future in rebirth, and I loved the idea of it as both transformational and forward in momentum, and a limbo space to be elaborated between dichotomies.
What my work is about is full of them - organic and artificial, man and machine, body and garment, Futurism in both its history and future musing. 
You say Oriens is based on various sources with some of them being space and futurism. Everyone has different perceptions of futurism and space; how do you view these concepts?
I think Futurism is so fascinating because of its lack of definitive bounds. It is one of the few movements that kind of escapes the constraints of time - what was made in the 60s at the peak of original Space Futurism is at once definitive of that era and seen as retro-futurist, but also can still be viewed today as forward thinking. It is something to always look forward to and we are never quite there, the same way space is unbounded and continuously fascinating to explore. Ideas and concepts are never cemented in the way the maker intends it, and I’ve always thought it was interesting that viewers often picked up on subtleties such as the organic skull like shape of a top that was designed with spacecraft structures and streamlines in mind. It all bleeds into each other, it’s very cyclical, but I really enjoy the complexities and excitement of the endless possibilities.
Your designs often play with lace and cords to create body sculpting masterpieces, do you adapt your designs to fit different body types? Has your view of the female body changed since starting your own label?
I had explored the idea of body garment relations in quite a few of my past projects before officially categorising my work under Oriens as a label, looking at constrictions, revealing, sculptural extensions and such. But working at home alone during the pandemic really stripped my resources and I resorted to a lot of free hand patterning and fitting on my own body. I had so many ideas that I wanted to materialize so quickly while working by myself, as well as the need to have the garments fit a range of figures when they are used in styling for other stylists and clients, I realised the importance of having pieces that can adapt to bodies of different shapes, sizes and fluctuations with the knowledge that I have for patterning, while incorporating the same sensibility of tensions and closures being completely incorporated into the design itself instead of existing purely for function. I think fitting on myself and the people around me has really helped me gain perspective of one’s own body fluctuations and the importance of corporeal sensations of wearing when creating pieces as well.

A signature element throughout plays with exposing gashes and intricate cuts, how are they placed in order to compliment the human body?
I love that you used the phrase exposing gashes and intricate cuts, I think these phrases and their suggestiveness of a raw flesh sensuality combined with highly curated design details create a kind of sensuality that is thoughtful and internally reflective and perhaps intriguing. I think more than ever I’m interested in the idea of having my pieces reveal sensuality in unexpected, subversive ways. Instead of pushing up the breasts in a really perception based and conformative sexiness, the exposures are placed to highlight the body underneath--- the curve of the underside of the breast as it falls, the rise of the hip bone, the small of the back. Much of it is in a way of bringing the inside, the body underneath out, whether through these visual revelations or through design lines that draw from the form and topography it dresses.
The name of your editorial Eros-ion, which features pieces from your debut collection Collection 001 incorporates the Greek deity Eros and the chemical term Ion. How does this speak for the collection?
Eros-ion is a wordplay on both the erosion formed caves of the shoot’s natural environment, but also connective to the name “Eros” of the first design realized in the collection, the muted rose and blush toned corset. Eros of the Greek deity governs love, sex and desire, and together with Psyche, in Grecian definition "soul, spirit, breath, life or animating force", births Voluptas/Hedone (meaning physical pleasure, bliss) through a journey of yearning and sacrifice. The highlighted Eros Corset is a piece that is directly representative of these ideas of sensuality which underlies the collection and my work, taking the form of a more traditional corset, bound in sweeping curvatures, adorned with enlarged fishnet lace, and colored in shades of flesh and flush. The adjunct of -ion and its chemical definitions of a loss or gain of charge connects to the idea of erosion with the caved rockforms of the editorial’s world but is beyond that reflective of the ideas of presence and removal of parts and wholes, making up the design’s hide and reveal of the body that creates tension in the body of the wearer and the beholder.
The supposedly contrasting ideas of femininity and the harsh elements of the natural environment come together in your editorial Eros-ion. How do you use your designs and photography to seamlessly connect the two concepts?
I think the environment creates another layer to the story the garments themselves tell. I loved the contrast of the environments and the garments, but there are inherent contradictions within both of them that complement each other as well - the idea of structure in boning against soft cloth, and the almost architectural hardness of the rock formations that have eroded to curvatures and concave [reliefs]. The space needs to make sense for the world the garment lives in, but also visually project it further and hopefully reveal details and elements that may have once been hidden to the viewer.

Your latest collection Collection 001 links several concepts including primal instincts and erotism. How will you reflect these ideas through the looks you create?
The looks in this collection work heavily with curvatures informed by the body, taking various forms like strong silhouette lines, internal manipulations within the bodice and extensions with cords and mesh layers that wrap the body. Eroticism is interplayed with the body and garment through a range of explorations, going into a harder place such as bondages, more structural materiality and more voluminous and intricate accents, juxtaposed with the signature use of mesh that conforms and gets manipulated to embrace the body with softness and fluidity. Revealing accents are placed in various ways to showcase the body, creating visual invitations into unexpected spaces of sensuality. As my first collective work it is very much a step forward and evolution from my previous collections, expanding the design variations and colourways, and I think the linework and conceptual sensibility in progression is continuing in my current works as well. I’m really excited to bring it even further.
As a fashion student, do you find that you are still learning new elements as a designer? How does this influence the direction of Oriens?
Absolutely. I think of it as both a blessing and a curse. Starting the label [after] only my second year meant a lot of self-directed learning and there are so many things I want to do that I may not be able to fully realise to the extent I want to yet. But there is that unwavering sense of forward momentum that really excites and drives me to know there is so much more out there to explore and bring to life. My work from this semester is exploring sensuality and body energy both internally, going even deeper inside and also outwards which is really exciting to move beyond just body conscious presentations of what sensuality can be while maintaining the idea of adorning and presenting the body. I’m also exploring aspects of 3D rendering and printing, and there are many other interdisciplinary elements that I would love to bring into my garment making going forward.
Within the short amount of time since your label’s inception, it has garnered considerable attention. How would you like to see your label develop in the future?
I would love to expand the world that it exists in, especially in terms of continued collaborations and interdisciplinary explorations. I don’t know [if] I see the end goal for it, my process is very much based on the current, or more so the near future, and for that there are a million ideas I want to realise, but I would love to see more of my works in expanded spaces, both physical and virtual, to allow room for its growth and evolution - curated exhibits, perhaps a larger platform yet to come.

Alexander Benjamin

ic_eye_openCreated with Sketch.See commentsClose comments
0 resultados