In search of a fashion utopia.
Mixing detail, imagination and a unique design aesthetic this Chinese Canadian designer uses fashion as a starting point to design a larger Utopia.
Yvonne Lin is a Chinese-Canadian womenswear designer currently based in London. She has both a 2014 BA from Central Saint Martins in London and a 2017 MA in Design from the Royal College of Art in London. Her 2017 Graduate Collection was entitled "Valnus Cura" which in Latin means to wound and to heal. The collection looks closely at brokenness as a process of mending. She used a combination of draping and tailoring techniques to produce her collection with the bare minimum, anything that was unnecessary was eliminated. For example, the sleeves and torso of a top are made from one piece of fabric while a jacket, consists of three or four pieces held together by one or two seams.
Yvonne is constantly inspired by the theatre, performance, and the human body and sees design as a form of expression that comes from a place that is personal and intimate. Her design aesthetic blends classic and modern that captures strength and sensitivity and is a celebration of the captivating mix of fragility and toughness of the female body. She thinks that it is important for her designs to move on their own and with the wearer. Therefore, her designs are produced with high-quality fabrics and an awareness of design details for the life of the wearer on a day to day basis.
I recently got to sit Down with Yvonne in London. And over a cup of green tea at her apartment and workspace we discussed fashion and what she sees for her future as a fashion designer.
Shop her collection
A limited number of her pieces are available online through her site including coats, trousers, belts, dresses and more.
Yvonne Lin in conversation
An in-depth interview conducted at her workspace in London.
What sparked your interest in pursuing fashion?
I grew up liking art and drawing but I'd never really considered fashion until the 12th grade. One of my friends in Vancouver invited me to her school fashion show where I was like ‘Wow, you make clothes for yourself’ and that’s when it hit me that I wanted to take sewing classes. I picked up sewing quite quickly because I was really good at making things. But it was too late to apply to a University for a beginner so; my sewing teacher in high school opened another class just for me to teach me extra sewing techniques. To start, I learned a lot of traditional techniques and as I progressed I learned couture techniques.
By the end of the 12th grade, I made some costumes for the sewing class and then the school decided to buy them as a collection. It was an unexpected yet nice surprise. From there, I ended up in Toronto attending Ryerson’s School of Fashion.
Who is your favorite fashion inspiration? What designer inspires you?
This is interesting because I always ask myself ‘Do I have a favorite designer and the answer is no.’ There are some designers that I love everything that he or she makes, and then there are some designers who have only certain aspects that appeal to me. For example, I love Martin Margeila because of his whole theory behind his brand. His theory is more about design language that applies to every angle of his design process. I love that in the end, he chose to express himself through clothing. Margeila is one of the designers I first knew of and it was the first time for me to feel the cliché of that art is everywhere. His work is taking something common in life and turning it into something stunning. I feel like he examines daily life and turns it into a different form. His beginning point is so true. The Margeila “white” came from him being poor yet still wanting to design. So, he grabbed a lot of clothes form the vintage market and in order to unify them, he painted them. His designs come from a reason that I find quite interesting. For example, the low V was to protect the woman so her hair didn't get messed up. This was his way of using design language that had a purpose and care.
I also like Mr. Haider Ackerman, I think Haider Ackerman’s vision of women is what I am inspired by and agree with. The balance of the softness and the hardness is never separate from a woman. It’s ways together with a perfect balance.
You said you were working at the moment. Are you working in the design industry?
I work for an independent designer here In London. It’s a young but growing brand that has an aesthetic based in Victorian and Romanticism. The designer wants to bring something from history and make it contemporary.
Images: Anna Sting, Make-Up: Violet Zhang, Model: Rebecca O'Donovan
Are you finding it challenging or inspiring working for someone else?
I think it's a different way of thinking. You need to work for a different kind of brand rather than what personal preference is of fashion. You need to know your customer and understand what they like and dislike in order to know how to design. So, for me when I first started working, the first step was to get to know your customer. This is different from what I had known before but now I understand the view of the aesthetic.
Do you have a time limit our goal when you want to break off and do your brand 100% of the time?
I do have a time and goal but not specifically. The timing is when I feel ready. When I graduated from school, I wanted to understand more of how the industry works. At the same time, for me, I know I love design, but there is a point that the industry is so full and abundant, I ask myself ‘Does there need to be another designer’ and ‘what is going to set you apart from other people’.
I understand my designs will be expensive so, for someone who doesn’t know you as a designer to spend that much money, what makes it so special to start with. I have a lot of questions to figure out before I start. After working with different brands I do feel like each brand is different and each brand can attract different markets. So, it allows you to have your own voice and audience. And the other is the financial business part of fashion. It’s essential to keep your designs going.
Do you have a picture in your mind of what your brand will eventually be and look like?
In my picture, or what I call the Utopia, it would be about lifestyle more than the brand. So a language of music, food, art, and creation gets me very excited. I enjoy the part of making and working, making and working. Once the collection has come together, and then the photo shoot or video happens with people you bring on board, that’s the moment I get super excited.
In the future, I would like to collaborate with people who have the same ideology, similar aesthetics but, different forms of expression. I would also like to open a warehouse and have an assortment of creative people all working together in that one space, bouncing ideas off each other. And because I love to cook I would like to incorporate a restaurant into the warehouse along with the clothing. And then eventually add books, music, and other creative aspects. These are the experiences and future I dream of.
Explore Yvonne's sketches
An interesting look at the thinking that goes intro her work and exceptional artistic skill.
So are those the things that inspire you?
Yes, food, music, and art inspire me. I also like environmental and space design that ties everything together. A lot of my work is story based so I make movies and clips to show the whole language of the brand.
You use the bare minimum of fabric and seams, is this your way of being sustainable?
Yes. So, my last collection, Vulnus Cura, was a process about recovering. It’s about the internal and external and what clothing means to you. The collection starts with heavy looks, which are more covered but that is when the character was most broken. We use clothing as a form of protection to make ourselves visibly big. But then sometimes it is the opposite. I want to slowly reduce all the unnecessary seams and get them together to bond one piece of fabric. I like things minimal, but I don’t like simple from the beginning. It’s about keeping the essential but the minimal.
If you could change one aspect in the world of fashion want to be?
The system, I think it is pretty sick. But I wonder how to change it. After these few years of experience or even when I came to London, I felt like you had to follow the rules even if you didn’t want to. I did see that there were other designers that didn’t follow the rules and they made it work for themselves and people appreciated it. I think you just need to trust your system, which might be difficult at first, but then there is always a way to make it work.
What does Chic mean to you?
I think it’s about being confident. I think it is hard to be confident now because of the Internet. It’s an information overload, which can cause anxiety due to all the information you are trying to take in. Being confident and chill is really hard so. this is really attractive to me.
Explore her other collections
Explore Yvonne's 5 other diverse collections spanning 5 years of work.
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