MILAN – The fruit of three years of passion and research of a young Chinese artist was unfurled at Milan’s Triennale museum, during the fashion capital’s ready-to-wear shows. Phaédo Studio is a Chinese brand and concept that was founded by 38-year-old designer Zhuzhu, who studied at London’s Central Saint Martins and was the first Chinese designer to attend the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Belgium. He now works on his artistic designs in his studio that was built into a cave in the Chinese countryside. His exhibition, that involved a solemn fashion show and installation, illustrated how fashion and art often compliment each other in explaining the mood and cultural hallmarks of an era. Wrinkled garments made of hand-dyed cotton were draped over blocks of clay and rice starch, in order to bring the crowd back to fashion’s natural origins. The exhibit propelled this week’s array of shows to an unexpected level.
Sofia Celeste caught up with Zhuzhu at Triennale di Milano to talk about the exhibition:
SC: Why did you decide to show in Milan?
ZZ: Why? Beautiful blue sky and the emotions here… and the country. Maybe I don’t know, it’s smaller.
SC: And the essence of this collection, what do you want us to feel with this space?
ZZ: White, pure and Chinese culture.
SC: You succeeded! So Chinese culture, quiet, peaceful… Do you consider yourself an artist first or a fashion designer?
ZZ: I wanted to become an artist, and I used the garment collection to show the fashion side. I would also like to add the project is also art. I want to use fashion differently… naturally, to show the other world.
SC: And so then why fashion as a medium? How does that help you translate your message?
ZZ: I studied fashion since a child, so I could work fabric.
SC: It’s very zen. That’s ironic because you live in China where there’s a lot of traffic, a lot of people…
ZZ:: Outside, in the most beautiful city: Hangzhou. My city has the most beautiful mountain, we have water, a lake… so the sound is like music. It’s about nature, it’s different from Shanghai which is a modern city, the second city is quieter.
SC: And the materials you use are all natural, all natural dyes?
ZZ: Yes, natural definitely.
SC: And made in China by artisans?
ZZ: No I don’t care where things come from… I just choose what I like. From all over the world: from Italy, from Paris. Chinese are good at crafts and I want to change the image that ‘China is cheap.”’