Stacks Image 1847
Haute Streak

Chinese couturier Yiqing Yin is catching the Parisian fashion world’s eye, fast. The 26-year-old tells ISBN exclusively about projects for Swarovski and Cartier, plans to launch ready-to-wear, and her penchant for Korean cinema
You got Paris press attention, like Vogue, very fast. How come?

Things have rolled out really, really fast since I got my diploma. To be honest, I have no idea why. I do something fresh to their eyes maybe, or because of my Chinese background.

You are the only Chinese being written about in couture in Paris. Are the French evolving?

Maybe it’s generational. When I was younger, people had a different at- titude to Chinese people than they do now. Before, it was a poor country, almost like the Third World. But I think the mentality towards China has evolved a lot in the last few years. Here and in New York, I think people get more respect, and in some cases have even started to fear the Chinese people. When I was a teenager, there was also the connotation of ‘Made in China’ ... the idea of cheap, cheap, cheap. People now have the means to buy, to build, to construct really interesting projects. But then again, I don’t really consider myself a Chinese designer. I came to France when I was four and grew up in Paris. I have a Chinese name but I’m a French-based company. People ask about my Chinese-ness, but I don’t have much to do with it in truth.

What’s your earliest fashion memory?

I always thought fashion was artifice. Then I went to see the Yohji Yamamoto exhibition Juste des Vêtements [Just Clothes], seven years ago. I was 19 and had just started first year of art school. The way the exhibition was presented was humble, essential and functional, and it was the first time I felt such a sense of meaning in fashion and I thought it could be a real career.

What career plans did you have?

That I’d be a journalist, or an archaeologist. I love travelling, so I thought something that would take me to different places all the time.

Ironic that Yamamoto was the spur. Your designs - often made from one piece of fabric - are more redolent of Issey Miyake.

Miyake has pushed the boundaries of clothes and fabric design. He has an advanced approach to fashion and technology which I don’t. I’m more traditional in terms of clothes and couture, not so conceptual. But I admire him very much. He’s a revolutionary.

What were the inspirations for your AW11-12 winter show?

Images of the slashed human body, anatomical studies, the muscles, veins, circuits, a very graphical representation. In the end, it’s not so much about that, but that’s how it started out. I did my research on the studies of scientific notation and drawings of body parts. It was really my interest in anatomical study.

You have a very dreamy/escapist sensibility it seems.

I often call my work the search for voluntary accidents. I love draping, most of my pieces are draped. And I like the sense of layering, the photography.

How do you go from couture to ready-to-wear when you’ve barely established your couture label? What will it look like and who is your target customer?

To not compromise the quality or creativity in the pieces. The challenge is how you keep that for something more accessible and more easily made. I don’t want it to stray too far from the couture. My collection is close to ready-to-wear anyway so I’m not sure it will be far away. It will be very close to everything I’ve shown so far. It won’t be really elaborate. And any girl who brings her kind of energy to my clothes can wear them.

And price point?

That’s the big challenge. The challenge will be to make them … let’s see, where do you start … one-thousand something euro for a dress to … I guess the most expensive 35,000 – a real luxury ready-to-wear piece. I have to make sure the work is very high quality indeed.

How would you compare and contrast Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese consumers?

I don’t know so well, as I haven’t been for a while. Some people I’ve met in Paris from Hong Kong have a very precise eye and taste. They are cultured on fashion. They have a really interesting curiosity for anything new. I don’t want to say ‘edgy’, but avant-garde. Mainly China just consumes whatever people tell them is good. Hong Kong people have the tendency to have more taste and be more European in mentality and taste.

What do you read and watch?

At the moment I’m not reading. I don’t have time. Working in fashion drains time. But I like a very poetic and abstract style in books and films. I like Kim Ki-duk [South Korean film director]. His films are emotionally intense. I like Bad Guy, which is
almost a mute movie. It has distance but you’re involved with your guts. I like this intense silence. I watch a lot of Korean movies; I like their directors, their aesthetic and the poetry.

You trained at French and British fashion schools. How different are they?

For the French it’s more intellectual, a lot less material. They think about the concept, the story, the identity around a project. In London, I was really impressed with the rhythm of work, the way people start a project; they don’t think much, there is a freedom with experimentation, a real generosity of creation, which you don’t find in Paris. London is more dynamic and French people are a lot more conservative.

You’ve done costume for the upcoming Cartier film and Swarovski ad campaigns. Again, how so quickly?

Swarovski was early. I met the director through my work. They were a sponsor at one of the shows, and are open-minded to collaborations with young artists. I did costume designs for the whole global campaign – it’s called ‘Discovering your Light’, or something of that sort. I also used the young boy in Turkey, which was original. Cartier was the same production. I knew some of the people and they proposed making an exclusive design, or gowns, for the global campaign. I don’t know when it’s going to come out. The costume is only a small part of the show.

What’s your personal style?

I only wear black. I don’t have time to mix colours in the morning.

- stephen short

Image courtesy of Yiqing Yin