Angel Chen aptly adjudicates on the fashion big question: is it about wearable art, or rather industrial products? “I design clothes that are commercial, but with my own textiles and in my own creativeness” – whatever, so to say, as long as the collection displays a very own feeling. Fed up with bold, hypnotising colours and savoir-faire, Chen's pieces are actually telling the story of a changing attitude; that of young people reinventing the tradition, freer and wiser. The chapter six was unveiled in Milan Fashion Week, last February 23th.
Angel Chen burst onto the fashion scene in 2014 – once again, the Central Saint Martins gave birth to a designer with a strong sense of fashion. Even so Chen's characters are fond of outrageously styled silhouettes, this luxuriant energy is spread through a traditional approach of tailoring. It's an expression of the present revolt age, so to say global, non-violent and funky; garments that embody the need of our time. After her previous collections entitled Youthquake or Fight Club, Angel Chen had introduced last week in Milan Modern Tribes, her vision for Fall 2017. Heavily inspired by the tribes of New Zealand and Nigeria, her pieces tend to define her very own clan, rallied around its own vocabulary and universe of sense. Cheeky and classy, casual and dashing, the whole collection was spiced up with sportswear shapes merged with couture volumes, soaked in lamé's sophistication. In order to grab the essence behind her creation, we've chat with Angel Chen, a few weeks before her presentation.
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Why did you choose to become a fashion designer? I'm asking that because I feel a lot of emotions coming from your pieces. What are you trying to communicate thanks to your garments?
I became a fashion designer because I wanted people to feel as creatively free as I do. I wanted people to get excited when they see something beautiful – but to do that, you have to pour everything into it. My collections are a complete expression of me at that point in time.
If you had to frame your universe in three words, they would be...
Beauty, curiosity, liberation.
You've said in an interview that it was after discovering John Galliano's work that you came to the idea to go and study fashion in London. What have you found deeply moving in Galliano's creations?
Galliano was and is an incredibly emotive designer – he is romantic, historic, sexy and modern all in one. There is a huge amount of feeling in his work and that is something I really admire.
How much the synergy of London has had an influence on your silhouette?
I would say that studying here made me aware of how much of a melting pot London is – anything goes, and that is incredibly liberating as a designer.
Your collections are built to be worn either by a man or a woman, a boy or a girl; your pieces can be worn dozens of different ways. Why are you particularly working on this aspect?
I am a huge advocator for the LGBT community, and I think my work should reflect my views – but more than that, I simply think it is a sign of our times. The idea of gender isn’t something that particularly affects my work and I am very protective of that.
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You seem to not really mind about trends. What challenges have you faced as a designer since you've been graduated?
We have been incredibly lucky with our success – I would say the main challenge we face is having time to fit everything in! We have numerous collaborations, our Chinese New Year collection with Lane Crawford being our most recent, as well as showrooms and shows internationally. It can be hectic.
Could you tell me more about your technique? It is so relevant: the embroideries, the multiple textures and bold colours. What is it made of? Do you maybe use traditional techniques?
Embroidery is something that has become increasingly important for us. Last season we developed a technique of resolving fillings, which meant we had the volume we wanted, but not the weight.
Last season your collection was kind of melting the disco-punk frivolity to the astonishing Asian heritage when it comes to shapes and fabrics. This season, you're presenting in Milan. What can we expect from your imminent collection?
You can expect quirkiness – that will always be there. We have a real print heavy lead this season. Our windbreakers are of course back, but this time with an embroidered focus, as well as some really great faux-furs and metallic pieces. What’s most important is we surprise each season whilst still remaining coherently Angel Chen.
Which themes did you explore this time? Who or what was in your mind? 
This season we were heavily influenced by Africa – from the prints, colours and textures to traditional accessories. There is such a rich culture there and it’s easy to be inspired. It was actually the inspiration for my graduate collection too.
Could you share a little secret with us: what is your favourite piece from your own Fall 2017?
Our windbreaker this season is really beautiful – and I love the piece which is why they always come back. We have an amazing bag this season though which can be pulled apart – but you’ll have to wait and see. Embroidery is something that has become increasingly important for us.
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