Since graduating with a MA Fashion Menswear degree from London’s prestigious Royal College of Art in 2015. The Fujian province born, Feng Chen Wang, has been a mainstay of London Fashion Week: Men’s. Her unisex deconstructed aesthetic, which splices and combines elements of garments traditionally associated with western menswear. Utilising age old techniques and colours from the community of her birthplace in China, these elements combine to create a truly original voice and vision.
A vision which differentiates Wang’s work from her contemporaries and others who also encompass and utilise the deconstructionist technique in their work. Maison Margiela being one house that is historically known for this technique, which had a boom in the 90’s and early 2000’s as part of the burgeoning avant-g and anti-fashion designers of the era. It is this original voice and vision which has attracted brands such as Levi’s, Nike and Converse to collaborate with the Chinese, London based designer. The latter has been an ongoing collaboration, where Feng applies her imitable deconstructionist aesthetic to footwear. Through her distinctive design language, Feng Chen Wang has created and garnered her own global community of individuals with whom her aesthetic resonates on a deeper level.
As mammals, human beings are natural pack animals. We are drawn to each other and since the start of time, have craved and created communities. These communities from ancient times to the modern, physical or online, have continued to develop and adapt, but one key element remains the same. The need to belong. Individuals intertwining and sharing ideas, beliefs and experiences are what bond them together. Whether it be family, teams, collectives and subcultures in all their varieties, are in essence a community. Like that of a patchwork or deconstructed garment, singular pieces taken apart and reconstructed into something familiar, yet new. Through these varying notions of community and after a year of being separated from them, designer Feng Chen Wang was inspired. Thus, for SS21, created ‘an ode to’ in her inimitable organic, deconstructionist aesthetic.
Military, work and Streetwear references take centre stage through asymmetric cutting, splicing and reconstructing garments associated with them. Taking the everyday items from these communities and re-imagining them in a modern collage. Mixing and layering of materials, colour and pattern. Cornflower blue and white striped shirting, monochromatic jerseys and neutral tones of khaki, olive and stone, precisely merged together. Altering the silhouette and your perception. Whilst challenging the idea of individualism within community and their uniforms.
The wardrobe staple that can be found in every community, the crew neck white T-shirt, is re-imagined as a double crew neck. A second asymmetric layer with a crew neck, mirrors the first, yet slightly offset on the chest, in keeping with the asymmetric DNA of the collection. The placement of the second crew neck, complete with label, acts as subtle branding.
A black double crew neck T-shirt features the same detailing but is now morphed into a long sleeve with the addition of striped cotton sleeves layered under the short sleeve of the jersey t-shirt. Seamlessly fusing casual and formal dress codes in an unexpected way. The multi layering and mixing of patterns and pieces is imbued in Feng Chen Wang's shirts from the collection. An offset collar shirt in blue and white chain link stripe cotton with short sleeves, features a contrasting white stripe layered long sleeve. The collar is crafted from the same contrasting white stripe shirting. A half collar cut from the same blue chain stripe fabric as the body, sits offset the main collar. Continuing the thread of asymmetry and layering the runs through the SS21 collection. The double layered shirt, crafted from a combination of 3 different striped cotton shirting fabrics. The main body is in contrasting coloured stripe panels with a classic button and stand collar. The upper layer crafted from another striped cotton has a revere collar and is attached as if it is bearing worn nonchalantly slightly off the shoulder, with the collar draping across the upper back. The double front placket sand button stands offer varying styling possibilities. Once again encompassing individualism within a community.
A French terry hoodie is spliced vertically from the mid shoulder down to the hem, the opposite sleeve is also cut away, slashed at the elbow. Olive and khaki panelled technical nylon wind runner connects to the hoody, replacing the area that was spliced from shoulder hem. The colour blocked technical nylon features a snap button pocket and asymmetric hem. The sleeve slashed at the elbow is merged with the lower sleeve of the wind runner in contrasting olive, creating a balanced and neutral colour palette of khaki, olive and stone. Seamlessly fusing two sports and streetwear staples whilst creating something utterly new yet familiar.
The mirroring of necklines seen in the T-shirt’s is replicated in a different form in the black French terry hoodie. With an inverted crew neck panel with embroidered tonal branding across the upper of the torso. The upper layer is oversized in cut with asymmetric wide collar. Creating the idea of depth, asymmetry and of course, layering; offering a multitude of styling and fastening options to individualise the silhouette and form. Featuring a tonal embroidered logo inspired by Chinese calligraphy. A classic cotton twill chino is created from panelled khaki trousers. The vertical panels each in the neutral tones of the collection, travel straight down the leg. Creating a new variation on another classic. The accessory offering comes in the shape of a bamboo barrel bag. With traditional bamboo craftsmanship from Feng Chen Wang’s homeland being utilised. Crafted in a black bamboo, with contrasting leather strips and metal clip closures. The Feng Chen Wang logo in contrasting brown appears on the opening panel.
So this concludes the ode to community in all its varying deconstructed glory. With ardent proof that there is capability for individualism within community and the positive air of a future where we can re-join and become a community of individuals once more.