Sia Fang designs clothes for the eccentric and ethereal. Fang is one designer who isn’t just creating fashion but redefining it; crafting intricate pieces that showcase the wearer’s inner beauty through wearable sculpture. What is described as an “experimental approach,” Fang uses a mixture of materials and facets of different mediums and blends them together to create something entirely unique. She is, at her core, a true multidimensional artist.
Fang’s recent collection, aptly titled “Disguise in Nature,” explores the reflection and observation of humans merely existing in life in all their glory — tough, tender, and everything in between. By juxtaposing pastel-hues and textures with more rough and hard skeleton structure creates an awe-inspiring and deft vision.
Schön! Magazine sits down with Sia Fang to describe the creation of the label, the process that goes into her wearable sculptures, and more.
Can you tell Schön! about yourself?
I am a multidisciplinary artist from China with a global presence spanning Shanghai, New York, and Paris. With a strong background in fashion design, I have established myself as a trailblazer in wearable sculpture. I use an experimental approach; I love to incorporate unconventional elements, such as inflammable paper, expired medical pills, candy wrappers, and resin, into my designs. I have been developing a wide range of work such as runway collection design, fashion production, and costume design for films and installations. My multidisciplinary expertise enables her to seamlessly blend different fields of art, creating a captivating visual experience for my audience.
I work independently in between art and fashion and I bring the fine art perspective into fashion and wearable sensitivity into art. My name, Sia Fang, stands for a testament to my vision and dedication to craft, an experience to captivate audiences worldwide with my sensational artistic expressions and my collaborative approach to serve my fellow artists a complementary perspective. I wish to introduce a world of Sia Fang that those who do not know much about art and fashion could also enjoy and celebrate.
What is the ethos behind your clothing?
Bridging the world of fine art and fashion, innovation in material and sensitivity in humanity.
You were born and raised in China and have a presence across the globe, in addition to studying at Parsons. How did these places influence you as a designer?
The reality that I was born and raised in China sets the tone of my narrative. Being able to be exposed to an international environment growing up makes me more conscious of my Chinese-ness and offers me chances to explain things that relate to my culture to those who are curious. This also makes me reflect on how to represent the delicateness and beauty in the Eastern perspective in art and fashion. Another important thing that I have developed is open-mindedness through my communication with people from different parts of the world. Being able to understand and absorb a different point of view breaks the limits of my creativity and I can always exceed others’ and my expectations and always offer something new.
You lean into interesting and unique materials, opting to use things like resin and candy wrappers in your pieces. What is it about these more unconventional elements that you believe bring something different to your garments?
I believe that the future of fashion lies in materiality. Thinking less about the wearable perspective of my pieces is what makes it possible to reach a new space between art and fashion. Challenging the materials makes my pieces less wearable and more out of reach but also more desirable at the same time. I created the pieces hoping that they could exist on their own without the bodies, therefore my choice of materials was also purposefully bringing dignity and solidity to the pieces.
What are some other media (film, books, music) that you think would complement this collection or exist with it in the same universe?
The Spiderwick Chronicles and Björk.
Are there specific artists or craftsmen that have influenced your work?
Cho Gi-Seok, Nobuyoshi Araki and Tatsuki Fujimoto.
This collection was inspired and influenced by observing humans in life; how do you portray this through the garments?
The humans inspired by this collection celebrate one thing in common: charisma that is born in danger. I am trying to portray their perfect balance in duality with bluntness in tenderness and toughness in fragility. The mysteries in these humans inspired me to refer to a series of plants and animals. The natural creatures that I study share one common thing,: mimicking the shapes and texture of the harmless but hiding their edges under disguise. I borrow some of their physical and functional characteristics to create this new layer of “flesh” that grows in and out of the human skeletons.
From my research to my creation, the key feature throughout is the physical appeal, and the charisma but also a hint of the risk, the unknown and the danger behind. These creatures have the magnetic power of indulging people in their charm, making people get obsessed and fall for them until the audiences are all in and convinced that all potential risks and losses are overlooked. Even when they eventually show a sign of the dark side, the audience would still be proceeding in danger instead of withdrawing. The contrast of virtue and vice, the physical and spiritual, the known and unrevealed is even a stronger pill than the charisma of these creatures itself. It evokes a thrill that is only to be found in duality, in contrast.
To reinforce the duality in these creatures (looks) I created, the skeleton-inspired silhouettes are contrasted with artificial, unremarkable materials with a smooth, run-through texture. I would like the experience of “Disguise in Nature” to start from the easiness and openness that the pastel-coloured shiny textured resin brings in, then slowly shaken by the revealing of the edge from those skeleton/nature-inspired shapes. Transition happens when the audiences realize the awkwardness of the depiction of the cruel hardcore skeleton structure. The atmosphere turns mysterious and suspicious, and the questioning side of these creatures may turn the audience around them. temporarily but the unforgettable, inevitable appeal would make them peak again and again into this world.
Was there an aspect of designing or creating this collection that you found challenging or enlightening?
Bringing the 2D sketches and ideas into 3D forms was the most challenging part when I still needed to think about the wearable perspective. With that said, it was also what gives my creations more possibility, more flexibility in form and functionality, and more identities. Seeing how the body works around these solid sculptural pieces was interesting because when somebody puts them on, it becomes almost a new installation along with the body. Having the solid resin 3D pieces detachable also gives back the space of fluidity for the garments underneath on their own. Without the soft fluid part of my work, the resin pieces exist as sculptures, installations and art but with them, they could become fashion too.
What do you hope people feel after wearing one of your garments?
I would like the experience of wearing my garments to be surreal and majestic. I believe that how untouchable my garments are is what makes them high fashion.
Lastly, how do you see your garments grow and evolve in the future?
I do not plan to mass-produce any of my pieces in the future. I see them existing solely in the galleries and at exhibitions, but also I see them serving as costumes for films and shows. I see them working around the bodies of some inspiring figures and complementing my aesthetic and vision. I want them to celebrate different things in the art world but also be celebrated by different things and individuals. Eventually, you will see exhibitions, runway shows, production projects and collaborations with the name of Sia Fang at very different places but still retaining the integrity of the escapist fantasy world that I create based on reality.
creative direction + fashion design. Sia Fang
photography. Honglin Cai
models. Laurel Fang, Emma Kanne, Tara Malika Nouri, Cris Qiyu Wang + Abel Chua
hair. Kimberly Xu
make up. Wakana Ichikawa
production design. Maya Marzuki Peters
photography assistant. Ophelia Chen
fashion assistants. Rachel Jin + Isabelle Yu
photography production assistant. Zackery Yao
art assistants. Ingrid Zhang + Sarah Whittum
lighting assistant. Lachlan McClellan + Donovan Kidd
logistics assistant. Ali Boukind