Paris based, Vogue Australia Contributor, Jiawa Liu recently travelled from the city of lights to London, to participate in the GFW18 campaign photoshoot. From rebellion to London's eclectic aesthetic, Jiawa has a refreshing perspective on the fashion industry, dismantling the idea that a career path has a set chronology.
We sat down with the creative to discuss the transition from a position in law to fashion and journalism, how the final unexpected changes can be the best, and why menswear often has the boxy silhouettes she prefers.
What made you want to be involved in Graduate Fashion Week?
I just find it really exciting - Graduate Fashion Week is something where they haven’t really become afraid of things so they just do exactly what they like. There has been some really cool things when you just let go.
Which collections have caught your eye?
To be honest I’m so into the mens collections, like the women's are really cool too but the men I feel like theres are so many things that I would already just wear. I don’t know, its very much an influence from the street fashion trend!
Like the contrast as well, like putting together typography on 2 different materials clashing materials which the women's did well too. The shapes were cool- you know like very oversized boxy I’m a a big fan of that.
You’ve come from Paris for the GFW18 campaign photoshoot! London’s known for being a real hub of creativity - what about the London fashion scene do you like?
I think its exactly that, it much more eclectic than anywhere else, I mean I often go to all the fashion weeks and I think each of them have their own vibe. London is definitely where something always interesting happening. Its not so homogeneous I’m always surprised by all the different influencers that show up, I definitely think that defines London for me.
'Influencer' is an interesting umbrella term that has appeared recently to refer to creatives and their digital presence. How did you end up being termed an 'influencer'?
I definitely didn’t intend to become an influencer, like it’s a term that was kind of given birth in the past few years. For me it was definitely something that allowed me to express myself and I never thought it would be a job. Like I was in a boring job, I was a lawyer, I would just have a website where I’d put pictures online and there would be people that would comment and we’d become pen pals or something.
What made you transition from being a lawyer into the fashion industry?
I quit last year, I guess I didn’t pick law because I liked it, it was more like I didn’t know what other paths there could be. Studying fashion was never something that was put in front of me or made an option. I was given the option of accounting, law or medicine! I guess it never entered into my mind I could do something else, until I got to know people that had similar interests to me and got to see other careers are possible. I would love to have young people to work for me as well and I think that they’re also in a mind set of going down one path. I just wish somebody would tell these people you don’t have to make a choice. There are so many ways, you don’t have to do it in chronological order.
What advice would you give to those students who are in the studio until 3 am preparing for GFW18?
Oh I guess I’m not really qualified, but if its like anything else in life... I think last minute is a really good time to get great stuff done. I personally work really well last minute when your under so much pressure so I would say don’t be afraid of being last minute, embrace it. Like you fucked it up and have only a few hours to re do it, that's when something really cool comes out of it.
Social media has some negative connotations, for example the comparisons that are damaging to mental health. How do you stay true to yourself on social media?
If you’re living life in a way that you care what other people think, then you understand and behave in a different way in different situations. I think that being authentic is simple and the demand for authenticity is unrealistic. I feel like there needs to be a small paradigm change because there’s criticism of things like social media, questioning, do you really want that do you want authenticity?
I think its weird that we’re ashamed of how we act when we’re by ourselves as it’s the centre of how much we think about what people think, I mean everyone has that , like do we want to lash out and act ourselves. I got really good advice years ago from someone who said don’t worry what other people think of you as they're probably too busy thinking about themselves.
However, if we are talking straight social media issues there is a desperation now more than ever to get the like, to get the follows. It's instagram's fault for everyone’s engagement and the reaction to that right now, with people trying to do more of what’s popular trying to change themselves into something that popular like not experimenting anymore and that I cant accept, thats counter productive.
I wish, that the correct reaction to this is doing more of what you like. That would be the right projection of rebellion in my opinion.
Interview & Words by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins