Pine trees and Sika deer, blooming roses and fleeting clouds – inspired by the pictorial language of traditional Chinese landscape painting, Yuhan Wang devotes her AW 21 collection to a study of women and nature. “I wanted to explore how time, space and spirit connect women together, and how nature is an ever-present teacher,” says Wang.
Wang chose a cast of diverse women of all ages to model her emotive, playful designs. Sisters, friends, mothers and daughters feature in the campaign shoot amplifying a sense of togetherness. Wearing elegantly waisted jacquard coats; flute hem walking skirts and frayed edge floral tweeds, the portraits underline the visible and invisible bonds between women.
As the collection was taking shape, Wang mused on the symbols and illusionary scenes of Tang Dynasty landscape painters. “Unable to change their physical environment, the artist projected their inner imaginary landscape onto the outer world, turning flora and fauna into symbols,” says Wang who sees a corollary in the language of dress.
“The pine tree represents long life, courage and constancy. The Sika deer symbolises intuition and gentleness,” says Wang of the motifs that run throughout the collection. The pine takes many forms from brushy watercolour print, to crochet embroidery on sweaters and also into the bronze metal sprays that dangle from asymmetric earrings and neckpieces. Up close, you can just see tiny pearl ‘raindrops.’ Spotted Sika deer frolic over stretch satin leggings, little bralette tops that appear under Wang’s signature ruched and draped lace dresses. The oil paintings of 19th century American artist, Mary Cassatt who is known for her intimate studies of mothers and children, also inspired Wang’s designs and her selection of deeply tactile fabrics including jacquards, felted lace, embroidered cotton tweed, pony hair and velvet.
There’s an echo of 19th elegance in the silhouette. Suits comprise of curvaceous flute hem skirts, frayed lapel nipped waist jackets and flamboyant lace blouses. Outerwear takes on an hourglass shape with coat dresses fashioned in floral jacquard prints in warm tones of bronze and ochre or azure blue and white. The melange of prints is worn head to toe with Louis heeled fabric shoes topped with mother of pearl and bronze buckles.
After a year of lockdown, Wang’s collection is an homage to the power of the imagination, the resilience of womankind and the beauty of nature.