On Our Radar: Huishan Zhang
Huishan Zhang might have graduated from Central Saint Martins only three years ago, but the 30-year-old designer has already made a lasting impression. Currently gearing up for his third season at London fashion week, Zhang, a native of Mainland China’s Qingdao, has proven his capacity to innovate and produce quality garments—and he’s followed up with commercial viability and high sell-through rates at retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Browns, and Harvey Nichols. In addition to being short-listed for the coveted Dorchester Fashion Prize last month, Zhang is also the first contemporary Mainland Chinese designer whose work has been acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. And his achievements have propelled him into the fashion limelight, making him a promising talent who bridges the divide between East and West.
For Spring 2014, Zhang will showcase a thoughtful hybrid of couture-like influences (the manipulation of fabric from Madeleine Vionnet and Madame Grès’ sculptural fashions) with the traditions of ancient Chinese mathematics. “There’s been a lot of brain work this season!” exclaims Zhang, who’s given us an exclusive sneak peek at his forthcoming collection. “Haute couture and Chinese arithmetic are both very precise, sharing a type of perfection.” Specifically, Zhang will feature smocking grids and trigonometric shapes that mold to the female form. He was also inspired by Man Ray’s double-exposure technique and penchant for surrealism.
Embellishments—a signature of Zhang’s, along with lace—will be used generously (compliments of ongoing show sponsor Swarovski) to create textural layers. “I feel like this will be a season of change. We’re looking for a new show venue [away from Somerset House], and I feel as though the brand is beginning to settle down…I even bought a new studio in China,” Zhang reveals.
The designer splits time between his intimate studio in London’s Holborn District and his thirty-person atelier in Qingdao, where he’s trained people to understand his brand philosophy. “What we do is so different from what actually exists in China’s [mass] manufacturing industry…we believe we can produce something luxurious and considered, with the hope of redefining what ‘Made in China’ stands for.”