Since launching his eponymous label in 2012, Shanghai based designer Ziggy Chen has been honing his craft, design language and aesthetic. Along with the growing new guard of Chinese designers such as Phaedo Studios, altering the perception and conversation around Chinese Fashion Designers. Taking inspiration from the deep history of his homeland and the city of which his atelier is based, a fusion of old world traditions and modern day processes. Developing a clear design language with his relaxed, textured and patch worked garments crafted from organic and natural materials in a muted neutral colour palette inspired by paintings from the Song Dynasty.
In particular, Chen looks at the turn of the 20th century for stylistic inspiration. Garments worn by various people, from farmers, workers, monks and soldiers from 1900 and 1920’s.
“When I saw paintings of the Song Dynasty, the colors came into my mind. I spent a lot of time studying those artworks, then these ideas form in the composition and construction of materials., to physically experience the color and luster that have been baptized by time.”
It’s this moment in history and a trip to Varanasi, a city that resides on the banks of the river Ganges in India that Ziggy Chen, again takes inspiration for his SS21 collection “CollageMory”. A merging of the words collage a memory, depicting that our memories are like that of a collage. Constructed of different layers, vivid images which can sometimes be deemed cerebrally surreal. Another key inspiration for the SS21 collection was the work of German Dada artist Hannah Höch. (Other notable Dada artists include Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and René Magritte).
Höch was a prominent member of the Dada art movement which began in 1915 and rose to popularity in 1920’s Paris. She is also accredited as one of the originators of photo-collage.
Her satirical and surrealist works where re contextualised, cut, chopped and re worked into new collages with images of Ziggy Chen’s trip to Varanasi. These photo-collages formed the basis for the prints featured in the collection and look book. As well as the accompanying animated film for the collection, also titled “CollageMory”, which is an animated collage where models with animal heads veer through a surreal cultural Dadaist collage. A lion headed model flying through sky, whilst another with a fishes head dives deeper into the surreal collage world. The accompanying look book for the collection follows suit with collage replacing the models heads and forming the background.
“ The way I I get inspiration is usually just by looking around. Observing different cultures and how people in different places lead different lifestyles”.
With fabrics from China, Italy and Japan, of which are woven on 100 year old looms. Ziggy Chen and his team at his Shanghai atelier began to realise a beautifully relaxed collection, with a key emphasis on the different stitching and dyeing processes. The continuation of constructing patchwork pieces which embody a life already lived, with a feeling of antiquity. Due to the global pandemic, there was less of a tailored offering in the collection. Instead continuing to focus on comfort and practicality of the garments, which is evidently seen and felt. From the washed linen and hemp to the re-worked cottons, the texture, tone and prints create a harmonious juxtaposition. Which fully encompasses the Chinese Tao philosophy.
Our selection for the seasons perfectly exemplifies the mood and core inspiration of the collection. A deep bark brown 2 button tailored jacket in Ziggy Chen’s signature relaxed fit, with a slight sheen and crinkled texture. The wide notch lapels with a contrasting black collar and working sleeve buttons add some traditional formality and craftsmanship.. The hem an o-ending of one side of the jacket are constructed via collage print patchwork pieces. The collage print is replicated on the interior lining.
The waistcoat comprised of deep olive and black panels constructed in a checkerboard patchwork, features all the traditional detailing with the addition of collage printed cuffed sleeves. Thus rendering it into a completely new garment. Creating that harmonious juxtaposition between tradition and modern innovation. The emergence of two classic pieces creating something new, in an age where so little is.
A long line signature shirt is realized if an all over collage print, in tones of olive and black. The photo collage print creating depth and texture, giving the eye a story to follow in a subtle yet emotive way. The shirt and the sleeves waistcoat can all be paired with the dropped shoulder soft T-shirt underneath to continue the laid back but casual, soul of the collection.
The two trousers in the selection continue in the same relaxed vein, which is signature to Ziggy Chen trousers. Their fluid, languid and voluminous form encapsulates the wearer in a light cloud of comfort and ease. The first Trouser features an elasticated waist band wand a wide loose cut through the leg ended in a slight taper at the hem. Constructed in washed black and feature an olive band down the side of the the leg. The second trouser is realized in a straight and relaxed cut with a drawstring waist, which adds an element of louche to the piece. To round off the summer selection, an elasticated waist wide and loose fitting shorts. With the same attributes as the first trouser but in short form. Once again constructed from a washed black and this team featuring a white side stripe down the exterior of the leg.
The beauty with Ziggy Chen’s clothes are like that of the concept for this collection. An amalgamation of inspirations that fold seamlessly into each other season after season. Continually adding to the story of the brand. Where items from today can be mixed and worn with items from yesterday. Creating your own collage of memories, where in the future you can look back and reminisce on the past.