Each year, Graduate Fashion Week holds an international catwalk competition, this year titled the Swarovski International Fashion Award. From just four participants a few years ago to 52 international graduates taking part for 2018, the show is an astonishing display of global design talent.
Danqi Chen, hailing from Beijing, won the award at GFW18, with her thoughtful and structural pieces. We caught up with the emerging designer to hear more about her cultural inspirations, plans to work in Paris and her advice for future talent.
Which university did you attend, and can you tell us three things that you learnt there, that have helped you since graduating?
I studied at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology. I changed a lot in the university, when I was in high school, I don't know what is fashion design, and through four years of [exposure to] professional knowledge and learning, they helped me to understand what is fashion design, understand through the work to express myself.
The second thing is the national design project. [I received this] opportunity provided by the school, which makes me know more about how to balance the functionality and aesthetics of fashion. In the end, I have gained a lot of good teachers and good friends. It is a pleasure to work with like-minded people.
Congratulations on showcasing in London as part of Graduate Fashion Week! How did it feel to show your work on an international stage?
It is an exciting thing to share my understanding of fashion on the international stage and to convey my style and ideas through my collection . I also learned how my peers in other countries to do design, which is very rewarding. Thank you very much for GFW's support of this activity.
Tell us a bit more about what you're going to pursue now.
I plan to start my own brand this year, and I want to do serious and interesting design. Meanwhile, I am preparing my portfolio, and I want to go abroad to study MA next year.
Are there any political, social or historical concepts you explore through your work, or messages you hope to convey?
My inspiration comes from China Huaiyang, mud dog clay sculpture, which belongs to China's intangible cultural heritage. Clay dogs has both a traditional and modern aesthetic feeling and is full of vitality. It is also the representative of China's auspicious culture, symbolizing that all things are spiritual and the unites from the person to god.
Every year, many international fashion students hope to show in the Truman Brewery as part of the Swarovski International Catwalk Competition. What advice would you give to them?
I think participating in the competition is a good opportunity to show myself. Proper pressure will improve my efficiency and planning to make a more complete design. At the time of making clothing, as soon as possible finish the preparation work, such as fabrics, accessories, give yourself plenty of time to do clothes at the end of the adjustment, in proportion to the model after trying on clothes to adjust, detail and match. The final adjustment is important.
What's the most exciting project you've worked on so far?
I am very excited about this fashion week activity, and I am deeply impressed by many excellent collections. We all feel that we don't have enough time when we are busy in the background. I was a little nervous at the awards ceremony, but finally I won the prize with everyone's applause. I will always remember this touching moment, watching the collection go on stage and winning the award.
Where are you hoping to be in five years time?
I want to be a freelance designer, maybe spend half a year in China, and half a year in London, Paris or New York.