My main reason for coming to the RCA was to develop my study about fashion. I’d already done a BA but needed to go further. The RCA has good connections with the Tsinghua Academy of Arts and Design, one of China’s top fashion design schools. China doesn’t have many of good design schools like it. Wendy Dagworthy (Dean of the School of Material and Head of Fashion programmes) gave a lecture there, and that, for me, was the deciding factor in choosing the Royal College of Art.
At that moment, the RCA was a very mysterious, amazing place. I had a plan for studying abroad. A BA in Fashion is just starting out – you learn how to make garments – but I wanted to do more and go to the best possible place. The RCA has much more crossover and is well-integrated with the other programmes.
At the beginning, I really enjoyed the technical side of fashion. In China, this is really encouraged and everything is based on this but here in the UK, it’s much more focused on how to create a collection, and how to make fashion work. It’s not just about the technical stuff. You are a designer, you need to design the product. The main thing is to create something new. After I came to the RCA, I explored this more and more.
For my final collection I started using some different materials from 3D printing for accessories and for panels on garments. It’s more like a seam but the seam is taken apart by the mechanism, the mechanism builds up the garment. It was inspired by Sarah Oppenheimer, the visual artist. Her work uses very sharp clean edges; there are unexpected angular elements. I developed my mechanisms from the detail of her work, always trying to push myself and try new processes.
The tutors help you explore what you like from your personality. The best tutors are not just tutors, they are your classmates and friends. We did many tutorials together. I got to know the Western fashion education in this way and started to put myself out there. From the second project, I felt more confident: I had good ideas and it took off.The early fabric regeneration that I did became more sophisticated. I started exploring shapes and became a bit more visionary. It was a growing up process.
"The RCA really wants you to do what you want – they encourage you to have the balance between professional practice and creativity."