PARIS — WWD spotlights three women designers who are focusing their female gaze on menswear as Paris hosts its busy six-day schedule with 84 events.
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Feng Chen Wang
Feng Chen Wang, a Chinese designer, has shown her talents in New York, London and Shanghai, and now Paris.
“I’ve been traveling everywhere but I’ve been living in a different city as well. [There are] lots of people like me, [within] our customer base and community. We are from different backgrounds, we connect with different cultures. Things we do and things we put together are a deeper way of [expressing] who we are as a young generation,”She spoke on a phone call from Shanghai.
Congruent with her generation, her gender-irrelevant approach to her work is also congruent. It draws its cues form traditional menswear layered over elements drawn from her Chinese heritage as well as a knack for deconstruction.
“At the beginning, I focused on menswear, but [being a] female designer [in that segment]This has brought me many female customers. So now, I feel that when I reference women’s clothing in fit or even with a skirt or dress, I’m sure our consumers won’t just be female as [this sense of]Freedom is part of the brand.
The current understanding of men’s and womenswear has “already become old school and their definition for now as well as the future is going to be changed,”She continued.
Hot off the exposure she received from the Beijing Winter Olympics, where her outfits were worn by flag-bearing friends, her Paris presentation on June 26 was a landmark and a jumpstart to the next level.
Although her main market is Asia (in particular China and Japan), this first participation marks her acceleration in Europe and North America.
Feng Chen Wang will also showcase made-to-measure designs. But don’t consider this purely an exercise in luxury — it’s also about being smart and more sustainable as a business.
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Hence her first steps in the metaverse on June 19, as part of Shanghai Fashion Week’s digital showcase, with fully virtual looks.
“Haute couture houses make everything physically before people order, but [for a business our size] this is a sustainable path to move toward this business model in a modern, cool and young way,”She continued.
Given her knack for collaborations, which has seen her form ongoing partnerships with mainstream brands Levi’s, Converse, Nike, Ugg but also motor vehicle-maker Piaggio, she is also eyeing new fields.
“I don’t see myself as a fashion designer but as a creative director,”She said this, hinting at a more lifestyle. “I feel like today’s generation doesn’t just focus on clothes but also on a lifestyle, including what we eat, drink and how we travel.” — Lily Templeton
Jeanne Friot, a Parisian designer, said she wanted to dress everyone when she said it.
“If I dressed my grandmother, I’d be thrilled,” says this 28-year old graduate of École Duperré and IFM who spent two years at Balenciaga before striking out on her own in 2020.
Friot designs is located in La Caserne sustainable accelerator hub. “clothes to make you feel powerful,” using deadstock or recycled materials, with few other considerations than making the wearer feel — and look — good.
“My work is not about me creating a collection that I apply to people. It speaks of the individual before fashion,”She stated that even the “genderless” label felt unfitting considering her view of gender as an arbitrary spectrum.
So her description of Jeanne Friot customer is “anyone, someone who is urban and falls in love with the way we cut and construct clothes,”In keeping with her views, clothing should be about “an energy and a personality.”
Expect lashings of Swarovski crystals, embroideries and eye-catching feathered denim carried over from earlier seasons in her spring 2023 collection, revealed at 3:30 p.m. on June 22 on the FHCM’s digital platform, ahead of a 5 to 8 p.m. physical presentation at the Palais de Tokyo.
Though doing away with gender fits with the times and her generation, there is one place she believes it is still necessary — pointing out she is a female designer.
“When you start to count, you realize [how few prominent ones] there are,”She stated that womenswear is equally important, as well as menswear. She also noted that women have led many houses that were founded by women in recent history.
“The gender of the designer still matters and it’s part of my [mission and values] to put an end to that,”She said. — L.T.
Mowalola Ogunlesi, a London-based Nigerian designer who was previously the design director for the Yeezy Gap line will present her spring 2023 collection in Paris, off-schedule, on June 25.
She is known for standing up for Black culture and championing it. “progressive, androgynous” Y2K aesthetic, Ogunlesi attended London’s Central Saint Martins and made her London Fashion Week debut with Lulu Kennedy’s emerging support platform Fashion East in 2019.
She gained the public’s attention after Naomi Campbell was spotted wearing a Mowalola gown with a bullet wound design, which according to the designer was meant to convey a sense of being a walking target.
Ye worked with her on the Yeezy Gap collection. She has dressed many of the biggest stars, including Drake and Kim Kardashian.
For her first collection after going solo, titled “Burglar Wear,”Ogunlesi will announce a partnership with a major sportswear company.
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