1. Could you tell us about the growth of the house of Nicole Zhang? How did working at Dior, Prada and Miu Miu shape your ideologies about your design?
Nicole Zhang, who was born in Wenzhou, China in 1976, once intended to become a popular singer at a younger age. She had a band and was signing in bars and performing gigs for years. In 2002, having received a degree in design in Shanghai, she started knocking on the golden bricks by working as the visual director for Dior and Prada in the greater China region. With her 10 years of experience in the top international field, her close ties with talented designers, visual artist and architects and the jet-set lifestyle she lived, it all gave her a sensitive intuition for high-end fashion design.
After leaving Prada in 2011, she eventually decided to begin her own adventure by starting the brand “Nicole Zhang”. She had three prêt-a-porter shows in Shanghai for her 2013SS, 2013AW and 2014SS and is currently preparing for her 2014A/W collection.
Nicole concludes that her inspirations are majorly complied with her experiences of painting as a child, performing in bands and her ethereal minds of being an Aquarius. Coming from a background of a wealthy family, she develops a higher taste in materials and aims to build a deeper comprehension on the needs of modern women. Nicole has absolute insists on the finest cutting, silhouettes, details and materials, and she faithfully believes that no concepts of a brand shall be limited and they must originate and evolve from its core ideology and style, surpassing limits of geography and identity.
2. Nicole Zhang promotes simple elegance and wear-ability. How do you find these concepts fit into the latest market?
This design concept is deeply related to my personal style and lifestyle, and my own style is constantly evolving along with my emotions, life pace, age and mentalities. The market is big and diverse enough for me to preserve my artistic integrity. As long as I can hook those who truly enjoy and appreciate my design, those who do not need to try and intentionally fit into my taste, those who fall in love in an instant. If I must claim the one element I try to fit to the market, I would say it is the cutting and the sizes. Only by getting in touch with clients from different markets can I really figure out whether I seized the shape correctly or whether the sizes are reasonable.
3. Do you believe in commercializing fashion? Or do you pursue artistic? Where is your balance in between?
Commercializing fashion is as important as the artistic part of it. It would be bland and tasteless if these two were missing. If there were no comfortable, convenient and good-looking commercial fashion, then you would probably see the streets filled with eye-catching weirdos who you may not even be able to shake hands with because their skirts are too enormous; or they could have too much 朋克铆钉. In short, I prefer the two things to co-exist. In my life I like to dress stylishly, comfortably, naturally and trendily. In my design, I would add surprisingly planned details and silhouettes into the ones I like. Besides, I would not purposefully add a heart-breaking stroke to my design simply for being “artistic”. Beautiful and minimal is art, especially in the Chinese market as most people are still exploring and discovering how to use minimal items to enhance their own beauty and elegance.
4.What does your newest collection mean to you? What message do you want your pieces to convey to the wearers?
This is a challenging but significant season for me with special meanings. In my first collection, my design was free like a jellyfish. Perhaps I was not well known at that point, so I did not have any pressure to restrain myself. The second season was more stressful but it ended up more successful and mature than the first one. But in the third season there seemed to be filled with various resistance and amendments that once made me very disappointed. Eventually, I was grateful that I once again insisted on showcasing the concept of my design completely. Polka dots representing the balls of inspiration in my mind and the folding conveying the countless obstacles I have walked over. I hope my clients can express their firm fashion statement and the light and sporty sense one gets after conquering hundreds of challenges.
5. What are your inspirations?
The lines in motions, the sensation of sports in geometry and the concept of neo-polka-dots.
The Nicole Zhang 2014 Spring/Summer collection conveys the message of a mixture of feminine characteristics and sports. Utilizing a lot of transparent elements, sporty patterned materials and shellac pleats, to create a fresh, pure and smart feeling of spring and summer, while continuing the modern minimalism shapes and the confrontation between perfection and imperfection that the designer adores. The contemporary polka dots and geometric lining lead the new season; fluent and chic pleating abandons the obsolete sports style. The styles intend to fit the necessity of modern day women who are required to keep up with the fast-paced cosmopolitan life and maintain their chic-ness.
6. How do you view the rise of Asia in the contemporary fashion/design world?
I am very proud and happy to see so many good Asian designers are currently active on the international stage of design, playing essential roles. Many of them are very talented and hard working. I feel fortunate to be able to work with many up and coming Asian designers coordinately to create a brand-new image of this community.
7. Does your cultural background influence your creations?
Not often. My flesh and bones have been westernized ever since I was young and I am easily adaptable to new things and I am obsessed about things I genuinely appreciate. On the contrary, I am reluctant towards the concept of localization and I find them superficial. However, as a Chinese designer, I do want to use my design to modernize and fashion-ize some Chinese element and materials that I feel connected to. I am waiting for the day to come.
8. What do you think the fashion scene in China is at this moment? Are consumers becoming more aware of the values of independent designers? Is it difficult for in any sense?
It is a substantial phase of transformation—gradually from mass copying to the realization of the importance of originality. Only in two years, I witnessed the moving-on of those long-term customers who used to purchase luxury brands seeking for more unique and non-mainstream designer work. I think this population with a sophisticated and independent taste will grow. They are looking for what really suits their own style and personality, which is more honest than blindly purchasing big brand names.
1. 您好！能跟我们讲述一下Nicole Zhang的成长历程吗？鉴于您之前在Dior，Prada和Miu Miu作为视觉艺术师的工作经验，这对你自己如今的设计有什么影响？
Nicole Zhang中文名字张旭，1976年出生于温州，自幼喜好画画手工创作，成长于一个思想开放的商人家庭中，曾经执意想成为一名优秀的歌手，并组建乐队驻唱多年，15岁开始定居上海。毕业后, Nicole先后在Dior与Prada担任中国区的视觉总监，十年的工作经验让她沉淀了国际化的时装视觉艺术所能带给她的深刻体会。多年来她来往于不同的国家和领域，与才华横溢的设计师、视觉艺术家和建筑师们都有着密切合作。
2. 这几季的Nicole Zhang推崇极简的优雅和可穿性。您认为这种理念如何与现在的时装市场做磨合？
4. 最新一季的Nicole Zhang对您来说有什么意义？您想要从中向穿戴者传递的信息是什么？
Nicole Zhang 2014春夏系列，推出的是将女性化与运动风格融合于一体的新形象。运用大量透明，运动提花面料与漆皮百折元素，塑造了春夏季节的清新灵动，并继续保持了设计师钟爱的极简摩登廓型、完美与不完美接替的缝制细节。颇具现代感的波点与几何线条贯穿了新一季，流畅时髦的百折摒弃了传统运动时尚风格，Nicole Zhang将经典女性特质与属于春夏的广阔运动气息进行重塑尝试。无论Ａ型，H型的连衣裙，或半裙及合体九分裤都考虑到现代女性的生活需求与大都会节奏，保持形象的同时并易于各种搭配。
Interview by Bohan Qiu
Published on the “ASIA IS THE NEW BLACK” issue of Elsewhere Magazine