OPENING: THREE EYES. FIVE YOUNG CHINESE DESIGNERS.
Clothes that move when you talk to them, clothes made from toilet paper and tent made from traditional handmade fabrics. A body container made from knitted fashion magazines that stood in the middle of the street in London and New York; minimalist clothes in soft fabrics that cling to the body and clothes with hands that can embrace you so that you don’t feel alone –I was overwhelmed by the diversity of designs and the well- considered and imaginative approach of the Chinese designers at The Future of Fashion is Now exhibition at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. I was impressed by how the disigners drew upon thousands of years of Chinese culture while simultaneously exploring the most advanced techniques an by how their clothes communicate in a highly personal and contemporary idiom that nonetheless fits within their rich tradition.
José Teunissen and I were immediately intrigued. We wanted to get to know more young Chinese designers and fid out how they see the role of fashion in their world and how the see the world at large. We wanted to discover China through them. When we heard that we have much space in the Hua Gallery in Shenzhen, where The Future of Fashion is Now was to be exhibited following its Chinese debut in Shanghai, we immediately seized the opportunity to advance our voyage of discovery and commission works by five young Chinese designers. These works have been added to the exhibition in Shenzhen and will later be displayed separately at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
In December 2015, during the jury deliberations with Professor Feng Feng of Guangzhou University, we had yet another opportunity to study the portafolios of young designers. It was such a joy to see the work of so many new designers and to meet them personally during our studio visits in the university’s fashion department. It is especially satisfying to know that we can share this experience with other in both Shenzhen and Rotterdam.
In addition to displaying the works themselves, it is important for us to show the creative process, the designers’ sources of inspiration, how they work, their routines and their working environments. To this end, we commissioned a Chinese fil crew to follow each designer around for a few days. The resulting video footage will be shown together with the garments, thus providing them with a context.
During a conversation with the designer Dooling Jiang, she remarked that young Chinese designers must have three eyes: two for looking forward and one looking back. “Three Eyes” struck us as a fitting title because that is precisely what the newly selected works show: how these five young designers meet the future from the perspective of an age-old culture.
I am certain that visitors will be surprised, as I was, to see a side of China that is rarely given prominence, and I hope that thousands of pairs of eyes will have an opportunity to see Three Eyes.