Eastern Star

Uma Wang's designs earn domestic bliss

Text by Tracy On

Tank _vol 7issue 16

The Hebei-born fashion designer Uma Wang is in an unusual position. Over the last year, she’s worked hard to develop her name in her native China – but in Europe, she has been a successful niche brand for years, beloved for intricately detailed clothing that recalls Ann Demeulemeester or Anne Valerie Hash in its hard-edged yet sexy elegance. The Wang wardrobe is filled with drapey dresses and coats in sombre neutrals, as well as the odd geometric print, which looks almost bauhaus in its severity but is likely to be a traditional Chinese pattern. Her spring/ summer 2011 collection is inspired by early morning in Shanghai – the mist and calm of a sleeping city, envisioned in washed cotton and silk that, she says, represent the surfaces of the city’s forest of skyscrapers. Wang attended central saint martins and has spent most of the last decade in Europe, but after graduation she returned to China to work. Her first employment experience was not a happy one. “I really hated my first job, she told Shanghai Style File. “My old boss sent me to his factory in Guangdong, where I spent half a year testing the knitting machines. It seemed like an unwelcome diversion at the time, but the intense schooling ended up inspiring her. “Knitting is essential to my aesthetic, she continued. “I like to create different textures within one garment, but each texture requires different materials and different machines. Building such an understated brand in China may have been difficult a few years ago, at the height of the ostentatious, western label-driven fashion frenzy, but Wang is encouraged by recent developments in the market. “People only wanted to buy the top luxury brands, like Louis Vuitton and Chanel, she has said. “But that’s changing now. My Chinese customers say they’re so tired of these brands. Now they want something creative, local and special. §


Photography: Todd Anthony / Make-up: Michael Mac / Model: Polina at A+ Models