When Bianca Chong was a child, she used to draw “fashion sketches” with her father for fun. The game they played consisted of creating a complete “look”. Afterwards, her mother, the judge of the competition, would decide whose ideas were better and, obviously, Bianca always came out on top. Later on in life, she decided that she wanted to study fashion, choosing Fashion Artefacts as her form of self-expression.
As you probably already now, we here at So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins are big fans of fashion artefacts. They’re objects that exist in the space between art and fashion, they have an aesthetic feel and a persuasive power that, oftentimes, expresses much more than the clothes they accompany. Hats, bags, glasses, there are an uncountable number of accessories that encapsulate an equally uncountable number of concepts, messages and feelings.
Bianca recently graduated from the London College of Fashion and is the creator of two collections: Revolving Tetrahedron and Re-Articulation. In both projects, Geometry and apparently simple shapes create original and surprising objects with a mysterious beauty to them. Her latest collection includes articulating mechanical pieces for objects that, normally, never needed them. Until now that is.
SC!: Tell us about the Headpiece from Revolving Tetrahedron. Why did you make this piece?
BC: This headpiece was the first project I did in my MA course – the Earthen Swivel. I wanted to explore form and texture in traditional art therefore I start researching on origami paper art to create 3D forms. I was also inspired by one of the Islamic tile fragment I saw in the V&A museum, I liked how they created groves on the surface to form patterns, using sunlight to create shadows of tiles that overlap on other tiles to form a new pattern.
Throughout my research and development, I developed my own scale of tetrahedron, which are formed by triangles and can be rotated inwards continuously. I wanted to use the tetrahedron to create changeable patterns on body.
I used traditional leather craft techniques to create the headpiece. The vegetable tanned leather were stamped by hand with repeated geometric patterns, then hand dyed with shades of brown and high-lighted with contrasting leather edges. The leather triangles were then connected to a thin leather base in specific order and the rotatable tetrahedron is formed.
This piece was the starting point for me to put mechanical elements in my designs.
SC!: About your final collection: Re-Articulation, how did you come up with the idea?
BC: The initial idea was to design a collection that promotes the interaction of the pieces with the audiences and that the pieces would only become functional when the mechanisms operate. If we see a still object as complete in its state then altering the form of it can be seen as breaking the continuity of the object. I want the user to take part in creating motion, breaking and rejoining the connections in the pieces. The idea of re-articulation starts from here.
Articulation also refers to the way I join the materials, namely wood, Avonite, metal and leather. The connections, the sequences and the spaces I placed in the joints were articulated in relation to the proportion in individual pieces. This collection is my translation of Architecture to Artefacts.
SC!: What´s the main challenge you face it to create these pieces?
BC: It must be the development of mechanisms. Every piece of work has different form and mechanism, therefore different techniques and process were needed. I developed the mechanisms through trial-and-error; none of the final pieces look or operate the same way as the first model. I let the development process lead me to the final outcome. It is challenging but it is the most fascinating achievement I made.
SC!: What´s fashion for you?
BC: Fashion is a media of defining myself.
SC!: What kind of customer do you work for?
BC: People who appreciate high quality handcrafted products with a unique combination of materials and textures. People who are driven towards exceptional designs and have the interest to interact with the products, at the same time values the concept behind the pieces.
SC!: Do you plan to sell online?
BC: Not at the moment but I will definitely do so when I have my own label in a few years time.
SC!: A classmate you truly admire and why.
BC: I would say Isabel Helf. We both work with wood and I am amazed by how she arranges and handles the material with distinctive woodcraft techniques. She is very aware of the needs of her target customers and created a collection with interesting concept and practical elements. The final pieces are made with a balance of minimalism and richness. Though it’s a menswear collection but I am more than happy to own one of the pieces! I think it is an achievement for designers to be able to create objects of desire for the audiences.
SC!: Have you ever worked for another label? What did you learn?
BC: I worked as a handbag designer for a high street label before and the most important thing I learnt was effective communication within a team. Working as a designer in the fast fashion field is never a one-person business, to get the projects work you have to ensure that your illustrations and specifications are very clear, especially when communicating with the factories.
SC!: What´s the most important lesson you have ever learned while studying fashion?
BC: It’s easy to get lost when I am too focused on producing bits and pieces of details. That is why it’s very important for me to pause at certain stage, rearrange the pieces and look at them as a whole collection. By then I would be able to make decisions on what to keep/drop and what to focus on. This is a very important design process for me.
SC!: Your inspiration comes from…
BC: Architecture. I love to examine how the lines join and come across with each other, forming shapes and support the whole structure. I especially like to focus on historical buildings, how their constructions were influence by different art movements and their rich ornamental details. They influence the way of how I calculate the silhouette and patterns of my designs.
SC!: The perfect fashion artefact for you is…
BC: Object that records the process of creation, that delivers unique sensational experience to the audiences.
SC!: You can´t stop wearing…
BC: Earrings! Every kind of earring.
SC!: Where do you live at the moment and where would you love to live and work?
BC: I am living in London at the moment. I am happy to live in anywhere with rich art and fashion culture.
SC!: Your dream is…
BC: To have my own quiet space with a studio where I don’t have to worry about time or anything but creating.
SC!: Apart from designing… You are good at…
BC: Collecting. I collect objects with distinctive features that attract me. From prints and postcards to vintage jewellery, old cameras, stationaries and packaging boxes. I can spend hours looking at them; they make me happy.
SC!: What are you going to do next?
BC I am going to look for a position as a fashion handbag or accessories designer. In my free time I want to create 2 or 3 more pieces of artefacts, I have a lot of ideas in my mind and a lot of materials I want to try!
Objects and Designs by: Bianca Chong
Photography: Eva Huang – Wei Photography
Hair and Makeup: Chia-Ying Wu
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla