Designer Jui-Chen Hu shares her story and the conceptualisation of her collection Yin Yang Illusion recently featured @ra showroom, Paris Fashion Week SS 2014.
I love to experience, think, and react. This is why I started to create. I found myself fond of art when I was little, and fortunately my parents they’ve been very supportive in my creative journey. I was the kid that would put artist and designer as my dream of the future on the career column.
Later, I went to Taipei National University of Art and majored in Fine Arts. In the art school they taught you to be an artist, but I think I learned more on the ways of thinking and the skills of developing ideas, also it was when I started to put all the puzzles together for my creativity. I cared about the environment, politics, and identity, there I started to write down the story I heard and interpreted it into art pieces. The method I learned in art still influenced me a lot when I am doing designs, which is, the story behind the concept is the most important thing for me, where I found all my inspiration when it comes to choosing technics and materials to apply in the collection.
At the beginning of the research, I chose identity as the core to start with, my first approach was optical illusion such as reversible figures and vase (the Rubin Goblet), in Chinese culture there is the symbol of Yin Ying with the same idea, which is when the contrast between negative and positive space has lead to visual balance. In this case, the identity of the subject itself becomes a question, and this is the kind of story I’m looking for.
So when I was digging into my interests and background, I found the story of Mei Lanfang and Meng Xiaodong, which is a great story to tell in my collection. In Chinese history, the art of theater is one of the most important art forms, mostly because it serve both royal family members and the public, with all different types of entertainment. I was fascinated by the actors and actresses in Late Qing, which was the prime time of the art.
I cared about the environment, politics, and identity, there I started to write down the story I heard and interpreted it into art pieces.
The opera used to be casted only by men, but women in that period of time emerged on the stage as actresses again. A very famous icon of the time was Mei Lanfang. All his life he played women’s roles on the stage, and he became the standard of a beautiful woman, but off stage he was just an ordinary man. One of Mei’s wives, actress Meng Xiaodong was opposite. She was famous for playing men’s roles on stage. It was a great example that happens in real life; which explains the illusion of the gender and identity – also a trend happening nowadays around us. In this collection, I tried to play with masculinity and femininity, and the concept of positive and negative.
A very famous icon of the time was Mei Lanfang, all his life he played women’s roles on stage, and he became the standard of a beautiful woman, but off stage he was just an ordinary man. One of Mei’s wives was an actress, Meng Xiaodong, was opposite. She was famous for playing men’s roles on stage. It was a great example that happens in real life; which explained the illusion of the gender and identity – also a trend happening nowadays around us.
There is no an absolute answer to define Yin or Yang (negative or positive); it is relevant. Therefore, I used this to describe the woman in my collection, she is somewhere in between, sometimes more masculine, and sometimes feminine and romantic. Also to me, it is the narrative of modern women, who actually had broken from the old image, the stereotype of old times. In the process of thinking and designing, I also try to explore myself in this identity, to search in my own root, to find my position in the history and identity of the generation.
Text by Jui-Chen Hu