Words Rikke Jensen Designer Zheqiang Zhang Styling Zheqiang Zhang
Photographer (CPH FW Backstage) Frida Gregersen Models Elias Gozal, Emil Athari, Oskar Dalsjø
Photographer (Campaign) Longfei Wang Photographer's Assistant Lilly Li Model Mark Heinrichson, Unique Models
Less Magazine would like to present Zheqiang Zhang, also known as Jacques. Being a recent MA graduate from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, he has a developed sense for creative translation in the areas of womenswear, couture, and menswear tailoring. This is reflected in his ability to transmit creative visuals and universes to the viewer.
When presented with the hard question “what defines good design in fashion”, Zhang presents the idea of a middle ground. Many well-made, quality collections are produced every year but still contain a lifeless energy with no aesthetic dignity. On the contrary, there are collections that are not as well crafted but exude a certain pulse. The good fashion design can be found in the space between these camps. Those creations contain an authentic rawness. However, they can not act wholly independently, he feels. In order to survive in the frantic pace of fashion, they need consumers who can ground them in the contexts that fulfill their intended function. For Zhang, fashion is about clothes actually being worn instead of simply being picturesque.
In his creative process, Zhang imagines the architecture, the structure of the general idea. After that, his impulses to construct takes form. The idea is then allowed to grow organically and therefore never turns out the way it was first intended. In the process, he discovers more about his projects as time goes by. Eventually, all of his ideas, notes, and observations begin to automatically arrange themselves in relation to one another to make way for an entirely new expression. It is a process he thoroughly enjoys.
Zhang has a strong belief in the concept of the human mind extracting attributes from an object and assigning them to its form and function. This is clear in design. Zhang is interested in subverting and counteracting this effect. Theory and design overlap as a number of considerations and decisions were made when Zhang created his latest collection. He wants to challenge the notion that a collection is only as great as the research that went into creating it. Theory and design are much more complex than that, he thinks. He is equally interested in what his collection can give people as he is in what it can not. Confusion is a point of truth for Zhang, even if many people refuse and fear it. If a visual creation is done right, it should embody an exposition of some feeling or emotion. Zhang would like to think that his collection can speak for itself and that it arrives at an irreducible idea or statement.
Concerning the subject of art, Zhang likes to make a distinction. His creations are second priority to the ideas and artworks that inspired and informed it. The collection can in some way substitute art as an appendage evoking the reality of art. It is not meant to be intensely personal, as Zhang prefers not to reveal too much of his personal life. The pleasure does not come from revealing for him. Rather, it comes from an impulse to create, an impulse to assemble ideas until they become art. Zhang believes that discussing the personal elements from this process kills the experience for the viewer.
Zhang cannot abandon fashion design anytime soon, however, he cannot imagine doing solely that. Creating fashion can be arbitrary and conforming to him. He would rather explore specific things, and would only think about stopping when he has reached the point where rehashing and refining what he has already done is the only option left. Less Magazine feels this young designer is worth bringing forward because he represents a thoughtful breed of creators. One that sheds light on the arbitrary and sees what is not normally seen. The artistic designer - one that slow fashion also needs!