Designers to Follow / Fashion

Class of 2019: Inside the futuristic world of Alexandra Fan

Get to know the award-winning fashion graduate.

Inspired by the coexisting rhythm and chaos of the urban village Guizhou, Alexandra Fan’s graduate collection is influenced by a mixture of Western and Eastern culture. Through the exploration of themes such as futurism, the winner of this year’s GFW Womenswear Award has managed to create something not only unique, but also extremely sustainable. “Since I want to minimize the artificial traces on the garments, I decided to cast my material to give a sense of mystery and futurity,” she tells HUNGER.

We caught up with the fashion graduate to talk personal style, upcoming projects and the inspiration behind the brand.

Tell us about your story. What lead you to fashion?

My grandmother used to design and make a lot of garments at home – just as a hobby. So there is a sewing machine in her house, which is giant and old. I got to know quite a lot about it and made a lot of tiny dresses for my dolls. I was one of the generations who grew up with the rapidly developing internet. I took in a lot of western cultures and blended them with my own identity. When I was in high school, I read a lot of magazines like Vogue and i-D and I was so interested in not only fashion work, but also those conceptual art installations or art piece produced in collaboration with other disciplines. Back then I really wanted to do such a fascinating and innovative thing, so I decided to take fashion as my working media, exploring more possibilities about it.

What themes do you explore with your designs? And what do they mean to you?

I was exploring futurism and narrative design. The themes almost decided that I need to go for a brand new design process and technique, which is exciting to me. In my understanding, the future of fashion would look more into the social environment, intelligent context and our concern for the environment. And I think the themes I went for was leading me to get closer to the scenery above.

Talk us through your graduate collection. How did that come about?

The graduate collection was a long process and almost about energy and determination for me. It started with a wide range of research about silhouette, color, texture or atmosphere. The research lead me to the development of garment construction and material sourcing. I did a pile of material samples at that stage since the one I used was pretty tricky and challenging. There was a relatively long process of adjusting the design according to the material properties and technical issues. And when all the aspects seem to work together, I put them into production and made the final collection.

What sort of materials did you use and how did you source them?

Since I want to minimize the artificial traces on the garments, I decided to cast my material to give a sense of mystery and futurity. Once I settle the purpose, I started to solve the problem by sourcing the proper mold and casting material. I did a lot of experiments at that stage and I got a detailed record of all the material I tested while I gradually corrected the deviation and found the proper ones. And finally, I decided on the food-grade silicone as the most recyclable and flexible material to use.

What was the inspiration behind the collection?

I was inspired by the urban village in my hometown. It’s actually a mountain city in the southwest of China and has been under construction all the time due to the need for expansion. So there were a lot of overlapping buildings and highways constructed in 3 dimensions, which also buried and merged numerous old construction with the new ones. When I was a child I used to imagine those giant concrete and metal structure as the silent giants and they are more like a mysterious city blueprint to me now. Somehow they are telling the anxiety and possibility of the modern city in this era.

How would you describe your personal style? What influences you the most?

At present, I would describe my style as experimental, modern and minimal. I think most of my works look quiet while having a strong visual impact. In the design process, I have always wanted to describe my own experience, my views on the macro world as well as my curiosity and fear of the unknown in modern language. This style is probably related to my own experience and hobbies. Growing up in China, the lifestyle around me is always busy and fast. The original scenery and culture always form an incredible contrast with the rapid development of the city, which has a great influence on me. At the same time, I have always enjoyed watching futuristic movies and literature. Therefore, I have been fascinated by the modern and avant-garde design style since I stepped into my major.

How are you hoping your designs will evolve in the future?

I hope my design can remain powerful and unconstrained, but get closer to daily wear in the future. I might keep the core and minimize them to fit the industry and market. But I’ll always be open to work cross border and apply different disciplines in my designs.

Do you have any upcoming projects we should be on the lookout for?

I’m currently starting a job in Shanghai and I’ll do my master’s degree in one or two years which will bring new projects.

22 August 2019