Chi Yuen is a footwear designer who was born in Hong Kong. She studied for her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at the School of Art Institute of Chicago and graduated with a degree in Fashion Design. She then went on to study MA Fashion Footwear at Cordwainer’s College of London. She has worked for Celine, Alexander Wang, Pollini and Nicholas Kirkwood. She is currently based in London, UK.
Third Floor’s features editor, Katie Handy-Beith was able to talk to Chi about her career and life…
Please tell us a bit more about yourself and why you chose to do a MA in fashion footwear.
Before I became a footwear designer, I specialized in womenswear fashion design, having obtained my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Fashion Design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I previously worked for Celine and Alexander Wang. I enrolled in the MA Fashion Footwear course at LCF to learn more about footwear design and to further develop my project management skills.
How do you think doing a masters helped you?
The MA made me more confident in my designs and it polished by project management skills.
When designing what are your main inspirations?
My main inspiration comes from my surroundings and seeing women with great styles. I also take inspiration from art and architecture.
I love your final MA collection, the attention to detail is fascinating. What was the main inspiration behind this collection?
The collection was inspired by surrealism with a focus on Oppenheim’s Fur Breakfast, Margritte’s Les Amants and Dali’s Persistence of Memory. Misplacement of texture and materials on ordinary objects provoke immediate responses because of its unordinary qualities.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
Putting the designs into production, seeing the finished product and knowing that the idea works.
When planning your designs, do you consider resilience and how long your designs will last?
It depends on the designs. Part of the collection is more dramatic and less wearable as they were aimed at attracting attention. The rest of the collection is designed to be more wearable.
Tell us a bit about the materials that you use.
The materials I used include high quality calfskin leather sponsored by Les Rives srl in Italy and mink fur sponsored by SAGA FURS in Denmark and vegetable tanned leather.
What can we expect from Chi Yuen in 2012?
I will be looking to work for other footwear brands and setting up my label to continue a few projects.
Are there any projects that you are currently working on?
I am starting on a commercial fusion line of my MA collection.
What does fashion mean to you in 2012?
How would you cope with a fashion crisis?
Put on a pair of high heel shoes. Height gives you confidence.
Being a fashion designer can understandably be stressful at times, how do you cope with this?
I usually watch a film that is unrelated to fashion, which takes my mind off my work.
Do you have any other interests in fashion design that you might pursue in the future?
I am also interested in bags and other accessories.
Tell me three things about your job that you love.
Creativity, developing designs into finished products and every project is different from the last.