Meet Hung Wei-Yu, Redress Design Award 2018 finalist
Craft , culture, future fashion and sustainability merge inextricably in the work of Taiwanese designer Hung Wei-Yu to develop lush, deeply considered designs based on the deconstruction of the Chinese qipao or cheongsam.
For inspiration, the Fu Jen Catholic University graduate, and current Masters student at ArtEZ Fashion Design turned to the 2011 epic ‘The Flowers of War’. Directed by Zhang Yimou, themes of war and humanity, of innocence and sacrifice, are told through the story of different groups of Chinese women hiding in a church from Japanese soldiers during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
To echo the themes of the film, Wei-Yu applied techniques of up-cycling and reconstruction to secondhand kimonos, bridalwear samples and broken lace. Tunics and flowing skirts, cinched at the waist, are layered to create evocative, tumbling silhouettes. “I wanted to show how the cheongsam was reborn under the influence of Western culture,” says Wei-Yu.
Textile innovation based in craft is key to Wei-Yu’s work. “Recently, I had the chance to work with indigenous groups in Taiwan, partnering with craftsmen to make traditional pieces,” he says. The collaboration combined ancient techniques using tree bark with the philosophies of modern design and appear again in Wei-Yu’s submission to the Redress Design Award.
Wood scraps, sourced from a furniture manufacturer, were used to create a lace that, once treated, has the texture and drape of silk. The method involved repeatedly hammering and washing the tree bark, before tanning the material to soften it.
“Tree bark lace is a traditional skill of the indigenous population; it also has the potential to be developed as an environmentally friendly material for the future,” says Wei-Yu, enthusiastically. Every piece has its place: “leftover materials can be designed and sold as small ornaments.”
The work has helped Wei-Yu make deep connections between craftsmanship and sustainability. “I believe that we can only explore the future and its possibilities if we understand our past,” he reflects. “Sustainable fashion is not only a way to care for a planet, it also entails forming emotional bonds with our clothing.”
This article originally appeared in the Redress Design Award 2018 Magazine.