If Girl Power is about being loud in the West, Girl Power in Asia is about being inspiring. WE found this charisma within Momo Wang, young London-based Chinese fashion designer whose latest ‘The Third Hand’ collection – a range of upcycled, folk-inspired clothes – entwines legacy into wearable art of her own kind. In a piece of Momo Wang design, innocence means being fearless to bloom. Her fashion – is a kaleidoscopic that symmetrically puts together mother culture and childhood dreams.
You have a beautiful name – 天墨. Is there any story behind the name?
My father told me that he decided to give me this name long before I was born. He is a Chinese calligrapher, thus he cannot live without ink, “墨”, just as, so he says, he cannot live without me. For the “天”, or Sky, I inherited it from my father’s master’s name Tianheng, “天衡”. Ink in the sky also sounds quite romantic and surreal. I like my name very much.
How did you fall in love with fashion?
I was born in a small town, Jinzhou, in northeast Liaoning province in China. I went to Beijing when I was 18 for university. When I was little my mum always made cute clothes for me. I was asked where did I buy these clothes all the time, I always spoke out proudly: My mum made it for me. So I guess when I was little I started to think about making my own clothes when I grow up. In university I felt then I have more time to do things I like, so I rented a small basement, bought a sewing machine, and started making clothes by myself. Finally I got my offer from Central Saint Martins in 2008. My dream started then, and I never want to wake up.
As a Chinese (though I saw a website stating you as a ”Japanese designer”) living in the West, how has the multi-cutlural exposure influence you in terms of thinking and style? It surely influences me immensely, yet multiculturalism perhaps is not only evident in London. Good friend of mine, from Jinzhou as well – again an extremely small town – met and married his Canadian wife in Jinzhou in the early 90′s. But to answer your question, I think, reactively a cosmopolitan environment brings an individual to face her identity for the first time in her life, to question herself who she truly is. And, on the other hand, it makes her appreciate and savour differences. The fact that I always travel between east and west, makes me feel so excited to face the difference and enjoy different life style all the time.
You put a lot of cultural messages to your design. What does your creative process usually start with? Is there anything particular that you want to deliver through your clothes?
In my case, I think it is no longer justified to talk about creative process and life, clear-cut. Two sides of one paper, or a mobius band. It starts with the beginning of my life, and perhaps will also end with it. I sense evermore a graft, eventually it cannot be decided which is which anymore. But if we are to talk after acknowledging this: I wish it can be perceived in my clothes my love for folk art, tribe culture, Southwest Africa and Northeast China alike; my love for the men and women who carry on traditions; and my love for their hands.
Upcycling is a significant part of your recent collections, e.g. The Third Hand and Momo’s Wardrobe? Why? Any environmental causes?
I always like collecting second-hand goods in my daily life, for it is fun and very cheap at times. Perhaps, sometimes I am more like a tinker, a mending craftswoman. I see and feel their auras when they were firstly made, and I am determined to bring the aura back. I feel inspired and motivated when I work for that. The Third Hand collection started from my hometown’s local flea market; Momo’s Wardrobe, of course, is of my own clothes. Selfishly speaking, being environmental is not the initial point – but it sure is the ultimate mission.
Why so much colour and ornaments?
I think I am quite sensitive to both, and I just like it this way on my clothes. Speaking of the ornaments specifically, I treat them at times as the non-fashion elements that are just as important, or perhaps even more important than fashion proper. Pieces of porcelains, pieces of woods.
Any designers that you look up to? I find Yohji Yamamoto as an individual very fascinating. I always love the way he talks, very simple but so charming in his own way.
What are you working on at the moment?
I m working on my first ready to wear collection and also my first book.
Are you currently in love with anything? Say a book, a music album etc. Recently I have collected a lot of vintage pattern from 40′s-90′s, I enjoy very much learning from them.And get to know more about some artists: Eva Hesse, Kurt Schwitters, Hans Bellmer etc.