Moon Chang returns to Schön! for the release of VENUS IN BLACK — a brand new lifestyle brand. Inspired by the creator’s dog (who is appropriately named Venus), the label produces looks for both people and pets while drawing from the city of New York. The first collection under the VENUS IN BLACK name is entitled “Venus Garden” — as the designer puts it, “the place where love, dreams and imagination can grow.” Schön! spoke to the designer to hear more about VENUS IN BLACK, the new collection and more.
VENUS IN BLACK is a lifestyle brand of Moon Chang, founded in the heart of New York in 2021. It is born with a love of my dog, Venus. Venus is mostly received as the goddess of beauty; however, Venus is my muse, black french bulldog. I reinterpret Venus as the symbol of dualism, which is also related to my design aesthetic and philosophy. VENUS IN BLACK is inspired by the dog and fashion culture in NYC, which is boundless and full of freedom. VENUS IN BLACK is a capsule and wardrobe version of my personal brand, Moon Chang, so that it still keeps the aesthetic and techniques. It is ready-to-wear and product-based so that customers can easily wear it while walking with their dogs. There is no separation between Moon Chang and VENUS IN BLACK, but I love to introduce Venus as a muse/creative director of VENUS IN BLACK because Venus is better to illustrate the contrast of the beauty and the beast, the light of purity and the darkness of the shadow, and the fantasy and the reality. This dual aesthetic evolves into the imaginary and dark fairytale storyline of the brand.
You’ve said that this first collection is influenced by gardening. Can you explain that a bit more for our readers?
The title of the first F/W 2021 collection of VENUS IN BLACK is “Venus Garden”, the place where love, dreams and imagination can grow. The garden is the place used to grow new lives. The main colour of this collection is “black”, which is a signature color of the brand, but also inspired by the key process of gardening. The process of “burning” accumulates the healthy soil and field, and alters the nutrient cycles by adding black carbon to the soils. Black usually means “the death”, but our interpretation of black is “life and love”. Moreover, by adding the personal and lovely interpretation of Venus Garden, it is the place where my French bulldog, Venus, loves to enjoy the scents of flowers, herbs, and vegetables. The concept of gardening also reflects on the silhouette and style. Garden wear, like an apron, workwear and gardening gloves, are reinterpreted by the aesthetic focus on the couture in beautiful and ugly ways.
What else inspired this collection?
Due to my own concept of “Street Couture”, I design many couture pieces by combining them with functional streetwear pieces, such as hoodies, t-shirts, shirts and carrot pants. I want my street couture to represent freedom of expression and size. I found beauty by building exaggerated and oversized silhouettes as symbols to break the norms and expectations of a female body and the beauty standards in our society that we are slaves to. The oversized box shapes and self-developed size-free constructions are my key silhouettes and techniques, which abandon the size restrictions to the woman’s body and emphasize comfort for outside activities.
You’ve also included pet fashion in this collection as well. Can you tell us more about the pet pieces in this collection?
In this collection, I introduce pet fashion as well, which can mix and match with humans. Our pet fashion is the miniature version of the “Street Couture”, with the same techniques and constructions, including a t-shirt, a dog collar, a poo bag and light baby bags for pet owners. I designed them based on my experience of being a dog mom. I highlight the functionality through washable fabrics and special finishes to reduce the discomfort for pets and pet owners as well. Also, VENUS IN BLACK accentuates the remarkable logo with a French bulldog, Venus, in a hybrid flower shape to emphasize our concept of cuteness in serious ways.
Why is it important that VENUS IN BLACK is a sustainable, ethical brand?
Being a sustainable and ethical brand is the most important challenge of VENUS IN BLACK. VENUS IN BLACK is born with the love for coexistence with human and animal, and with human and nature. What we design, wear and make should be safe and meaningful, and VENUS IN BLACK will try the best to elevate an environmentally-friendly lifestyle for humans and animals, to enhance animal rights, especially for stray dogs, and to abandon toxic and non-recycled materials, animal leather and furs. I have developed our own fabrications which can substitute leather and fur, but they are truly made out of recycled and collected materials. Sourcing recycled fabrics from the local fashion district is our challenge, and it slows down the speed of production, but we enjoy the slow and safe fashion.
What emotions were you seeking to capture with the accompanying photos?
Through the emotions of love and freedom, I want to express Venus’ fantasy world by illustrating the concept of escapism and minimalism in 2D. I want to convey the feeling and visual narrative of the classic painting, “The Birth of Venus by Botticelli” through Venus Garden, but in more natural, casual and modern ways. It evolves into an imaginary and dark fairytale storyline by shooting with Venus. I wish to invite people to a black and pink garden of Venus, with a heavy fluff of black, and an invisible breeze of pink air.
What’s been inspiring you lately?
Normally, I used to go to the museum and gallery to take a break and be inspired. I love the atmosphere of those places. Due to COVID, I have spent my time at my home and studio, and it leads me to go over my archives of paintings, artbooks, collections, vintage toys and research. I recently found my vintage Barbie, Kewpie dolls, Polly Pockets, first editions of the Harry Potter series and all the other things I felt precious in the past. There were some colour changes, missing pieces or pages, and with some stickers or scribbles on the surface. They were not in perfect condition, but I felt their warmth, love, memories as well as the freshness from my childhood. When going over the past, I am in my own museum, which inspires me a lot and secretly leads me to a new journey of exploration in the fashion and art world.
Moon Chang and VENUS IN BLACK will keep challenging on the boundless change and creativity with ownership. Specifically, from Moon Chang, the collection will be designed based on my psychology, philosophy and aesthetic. VENUS IN BLACK will bring the concept of Moon Chang, but full of love and energy from the lifestyle of human and animal by embracing art and fashion. I wish for readers to experience and feel the full story of our collections and see how they evolve and collaborate with each other. Also, we have many upcoming events and exhibitions for people who love both fashion and pets. I hope people come to rest and enjoy the new artistic approach with us.