April 19 2014

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2 posts tagged "Steven Tai"

Steven Tai Plays for Keeps


Steven Tai

Karolina Kurkova was recently snapped in London sporting a white Steven Tai dress with navy floral appliqués—a pick that definitely helped edge him further onto the global fashion radar.

Tai, 29, who was born in Macao and mostly raised in Canada, belongs to a brand-new generation of designers who found their passion thanks to “I remember being a geek in high school, becoming interested in how dress indicated belonging and how to look the part,” he recalled. Around his senior year, someone introduced him to “It opened up a whole new world for me,” he said in his Paris showroom the other day. “It really turned me into a fashion person.”

For Fall-Winter, Tai’s story revolves around “a girl who broke up with her boyfriend but kept all his clothes”—which means tailored coats with a masculine vibe and slightly bigger, tomboyish silhouettes. Texture is a big focus for Tai, so he’s been developing techniques using laser-cut nylon, a raincoat material he works into flowers or uses as fringe, and sparkling tweed stitched in layers on jackets and coats. “We measure by the number of movies we watched while we are sewing,” he said, indicating one fringed trench. “This one is eight movies for four people.” He’s also been developing jacquards, which he uses in columns and cuts into fringe. “Jacquard is such a traditional fabric, it’s fun to be unsentimental about it,” he joked. Those flowers on Kurkova’s dress are another invention: They may look and feel like velvet, but in fact they are made of finely detailed, sliced embroidery.

Photo: Courtesy of Steven Tai

On Our Radar: Steven Tai


Steven Tai Spring '14

You may remember Steven Tai from Spring ’14′s VFiles show, where the 29-year-old Central Saint Martins graduate presented his crisp range of sporty, silkscreened looks. But winning a spot in the fashion platform’s debut runway event isn’t Tai’s only claim to fame. In fact, the talent, who’s based in London by way of Macao, had been making the rounds in Europe and Canada for over a year before the VFiles romp. In 2012, his visually simple but technically mind-boggling designs won the Chloe award at the prestigious Hyeres festival; he’s been invited to show everywhere from Berlin to Toronto; and he’s already amassed a healthy crop of international stockists, VFiles, Canada’s Holt Renfrew, and London’s 125 Brick Lane among them. Tai now seems poised for fashion stardom, so it’s somewhat ironic that he spent most of his childhood trying to escape the garment game.

“My family did manufacturing for very technical sportswear, like bicycle gear for triathlons,” Tai told by phone from Hong Kong, where he was researching techniques and textiles. “I grew up around seamstresses and, as a kid, clothing was like the last thing I wanted to do.” However, while earning his business degree in Canada, Tai had a revelation. “I realized that I wanted to do something creative, and at the same time, a friend actually introduced me to, and the archive just opened up this whole new world for me.”

Steven Tai Pre-Fall

He enrolled in London’s competitive Saint Martins’ BA program and, when the designer wasn’t in classroom, he did stints at Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Hussein Chalayan, and Damir Doma.

It’s easy to see that his mentors taught him well. Tai’s work is impeccably crafted using various, unexpected processes. For example, Spring ’14 incorporated laser cutting, silk screening, bonding, and puff paint accents, as well as a fractured pastoral motif. The latter was derived from photographs of a British bio-dome that were abstracted by artist Lola Dupré. “I’m always quite nostalgic for the past, so I wanted to start with something very traditional, and combine it with something technical and futuristic,” Tai explained of the lineup, which was inspired by cross-stitching and glitch art. As for his pared-down cuts, Tai offered, “At Saint Martins, nothing you can do is crazy enough. I learned from that, but it’s important to have a balance. Technology and textiles are the crazy parts of my collection. It’s all about these insane, complicated procedures, and the silhouette stays simple—otherwise, it gets a bit overwhelming.”

Fall ’14 will mark Tai’s first time presenting his wares in a Somerset House showroom at London fashion week. “The collection is a lot more deconstructed than last season,” he hinted. “The inspiration is shredded papers.” To tide fans over between the Spring and Fall drops, Tai has once again teamed up with Dupré, this time to create a range of Pre-Fall sweatshirts that will be available at select retailers and on Tai’s Web site this April. Priced between $296 and $740, the graphic, Swarovski crystal-embellished scuba jersey jumpers debut above, exclusively on

Photos: Courtesy of Steven Tai