Making her Mark: Feng Chen Wang

Making her Mark: Feng Chen Wang

The designer talks to V at the height of her most recent show and special campaigns with Levi's and Converse.

The designer talks to V at the height of her most recent show and special campaigns with Levi's and Converse.

Text: Gretty Garcia

Feng Chen Wang's  VFILES biography reads "translating the anatomical into the sartorial." Just about anyone who bears witness to anything from the designer's tangible collections to her intangible vibrant disposition can attest to the validity of this statement.  Luckily for V, we got to experience both. "Feng," and she refers to herself, produces works inherently anecdotal, but that also somehow convey the themes and motifs pertaining to humanity at large: Her most recent Spring 2019 collection is a manifestation of this. Speaking with graciousness and candor, the designer unabashedly relayed to us the importance of self-expression literally coming from the self, her humbled joy over her continually growing list of accomplishments, collaborations, and collections, and her excitement for the future and the road ahead.

Described as honoring "The form and functionality of six past models...specifically, the original 501 from 1873, the 1933 Cowboy job, the 1937 Red Tab jean, the 1944 World War 2 jean, the Post-WWII 1947 jean and the 1954 zipper jean," the collaboration between Feng Chen Wang and Levi's for the 501 jeans serves as a microcosm of the ways in which the young designer's ambitious projects prove to be multifaceted by nature. Working with brands such as the iconic Levi's and Converse not only involves innovation and a freshness that the designer innately has, but, also involves taking the time to underscore the past and appreciate the singularity of timeless classics. For instance, Wang very recently took a trip to the Levi’s archive in San Francisco in order to learn firsthand about how different individuals connected to the Levi's company in addition to esteemed collections of jeans that it has released throughout the course of its history.

Regarding the experience of collaborating with Levi's, the designer revealed: "It’s been a great experience for me. I feel that Levi’s already has such a great history, and I really enjoy looking at the stories I learned - you realize quickly that you don’t need to make something up to produce a design. I really enjoy looking at the fact, taking inspiration from it, and then creating the FCW [Feng Chen Wang] version.”

After graduating in 2015 from the prestigious Royal College of Art in London with a Master’s degree in Menswear Fashion, the young designer faced personal challenges. Her father was diagnosed with cancer, and she initially was weary at the thought of her fellow recent graduates and design colleagues quickly finding their place in the realm of fashion. Despite this, Wang continuously reflected upon the self to guide her through.

"I am Chinese and my parents lived in China and I lived in the UK and I went back to China to look at my father and spend time with my father in the hospital, so it caused quite big things for me...It was my first time facing a big thing in life and that made me feel alone, especially being a really emotional person - so, it made me feel a lot. When I went back to London, I hadn’t prepared anything and all of my classmates had already prepared and made a lot of things and it was a bit stressful, but this brought me into myself in a lot of ways and got me to start designing from the feeling and what happened around me - especially from my father. You don’t need to create a new story... I just drew everything that I felt and brought everything to school to show everyone and they were like super quiet [laughs] and that was how my connection came out and brought me to another level. It defined me and my brand and my style as well. It's why every season is so different whether it is made in China or whatever the topic is going to be; it is all from my heart and what is around me and who is around me. I tell the story in my way and use technique to translate that into a connection and that is quite important."

Despite design being innate to Wang, though, she didn't always want to be in fashion - she just knew that the haphazard amalgamation of things she was good at would not have allowed her to do anything else in life. Wang revealed: "When I was young, people asked me what I wanted to be and I would always say ‘oh I want to be an artist.’ I didn't even know what that meant or what kind of artists there were, but it’s true - you just know. You just know what kind of colors blend well and what garments go well together and you know the material. People kept saying ‘Hey, Feng, why are you choosing these fabrics or putting these colors together? It’s something unusual! It’s hard to imagine how people are going to wear these on the street.’ But, I just felt like it came naturally from inside me...It was always easy."

This seamless gift is certainly why celebrities such as Rihanna and Beyoncé have been seen out in the designer's garments. Luckily for us, though, Wang has plans on expanding into other creative realms and projects. "Maybe in the future...something with music or the arts or something totally different not in the clothes or fashion area" says the young designer. But, it seems to be the case that this occupational appendage is already in its nascent stages. The entirety of her most recent Spring 2019 show - quite literally - was managed by her: 

"For this show, we created not just the clothes in fashion show, but also the set design this season... I’m the director for everything and am trying to become director in the future as well, but this season is interesting in that we have a massive set design. Morning and night and many hours went into making these things because we make it in house. This is a special season, and you can't produce this in any other place." 

After speaking to Wang, though, it was not easy to affirm the correlation between a special season and a special designer making it all happen.

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