On a refreshing afternoon of early spring Paris, light beams break through the thick, heavy clouds, gathering and forming a heaven-like glow on top of the clumsily romantic Centre George Pompidou. Hu Qi, in her full Parisian-styled black outfit, a naïve and innocent looking Bob cut and a rough but delicate thick frame glasses, her vibe, indeed, tells you that she is a designer.
Born and raised in Kunming, Yunnan (the capital of a western province in China), Hu Qi recently founded her own studio in Paris—“HU-Design”. Within just half a year, her design has been noticed by those sensitive fashionistas. During Paris Men’s Fashion Week in January 2014, Korean musician and fashion god– G-dragon, wore her special designed leather-woven “C-Love” brooch as a highlight of his outfit. At the end of February, Parisian department store “Printemp” displayed a series of “HU-designed” conceptual paper-made helmets for mannequins at the men’s collection. Exciting news have been delivered to Hu Qi as spring awakes in Paris.
How do you define the name of “HU-design”?
First of all, “Hu” is my last name, which can also be interpreted as “tiger” in Chinese, which is also my zodiac. In China, there is a popular term, “ female tiger” to describe sturdy women, often with a negative connotation. But to me, if a woman can succeed in her career while balancing her familial life, she deserves the respect from the society.
How did you set up the style of “HU”?
When I first came to study design in Paris, I was leaning towards the “Kawaii” and “recycling” style. For example, I would use ring-pull from pop cans, paper clips to make suits et cetera. I conclude myself that this is due to my bad-childhood which affected my ideologies. However, reality struck me after a while as it became increasingly difficult to fit the standards I set for myself as well as the demands and myself from the surrounding environment. So I quitted school to clear my head up, to re-organize. I was thinking what truly belongs to me that make me special, and the answer is my cultural background. I was in love with weaving as a child, and these concepts re-sculptured my way of thinking. I wanted to portray the orient using the perspectives of the Occident, without falling into the traps of shallow stereotypes. For example, my “C-Love” brooch was inspired by the weaving method of a traditional Chinese knot, clean, neat and without any seams. This minimalism is what I pursue and I even had the idea of folding a pair of shoes using only a piece of leather.
When Hu first stepped on the land of Paris in 2008, she was hugging a bundle of ambitions to become a clothing designer. She started studying Luxury design at the Parisian fashion school “Esmod”. Even though she had such experience back in China, the sharp twitch of incomparability between the two countries struck her like a thousand voltage lightning. It was through countless moments of disappointment, self-loathing and self-discovery, that she eventually crawled her way back and returned to be this up-worthy, optimistic girl.
How did you transformed into an accessories designer in the end?
“Talk with accessories”. I find that in daily lives, some limitations of design exist for clothing. Therefore the road of accessories is wider.
Could you tell us the story of “C-Love”?
Initially, it was a little present I made for my favorite professor who were hospitalized. To my surprise, she absolutely loved it and I named it after her with the letter “C”, which can also be interpreted as “See-Love”. I hope people could see and feel the love around them. It truly came to me as a surprise when G-Dragon appreciated and wore my design. I felt like the luckiest girl.
When talking about the “Rise of Asia”, we cannot merely remain on a superficial level. Being bombarded by news media, skeptical politicians or perhaps even being brainwashed by some “Chinaphobic” academics, we cannot truly look at Asia with a biased and artistic opinion. Hence sometimes, we could discover a lot more of a culture through smaller lenses.
Hu, as part of the new generation of Chinese designers, understands perfectly how to create fine-design that is modern, global, Chinese and never cliché.
How do you view the phrase “Asia as the New Black”?
I think it is an ideal environment in China at the moment for fashion design. Before, people were still focusing on chasing the trends and buying big logo names. But the new generation of youth is starting to pursue beauty and style that they truly appreciate and connect to. This is definitely an opportunity for us.
Who are you, really, after ripping off the tag of being a “designer”
All my friends call me an “Er-bi”(Chinese slang for being clumsy, stupid and senseless. But in her case is less negative..) When I am working, I am dead serious with high professional morals. But whenever I am off work, I become laid-back, careless and simple-minded.
Is there anything special about yourself that you could share with us?
I can sleep a lot. Like, A LOT. I even went to the doctors and they said it is because I lack Vitamin D. Since in Kunming, which is where I am from, there is always strong UV due to its higher altitude so my body generates Vitamin D automatically. But that is not the case in Paris… And sometimes if no one wakes me up, I can sleep until eternity.
What do you like to do when you are free?
Look at my cat and daze.
在巴黎早春的一个下午，光线冲破厚厚的云层，凝聚散落在蓬皮杜摩登烂漫，白鸽飞舞的广场上。胡琦，穿着一身巴黎式的黑，顶着她那童真无邪的Bob cut, 戴着一副粗犷又不失精致的黑框眼镜，从头到脚都散发着一股设计的气息。
出身成长与云南昆明的胡琦，去年刚在巴黎创立了她自己的工作室——“Hu-design”. 刚创立不到半年，她的设计就已备受关注。在刚结束不久的巴黎男装时装周上，韩国偶像兼时尚指标Big-Bang成员G-Dragon更是穿戴了她的成名作C-love胸针。 二月底，巴黎Printemp (春天百货) 更是用了她设计的这只头盔系列陈列在商场的模特上展示。
Q：你怎么看“Asia As The New Black”这个主题？
Words by Bohan Qiu
Article published on the 3rd issue of Elsewhere Magazine — “ASIA IS THE NEW BLACK”