- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
Fashion Scout has had a flurry of incredible talents as their Merit Award winner in recent years, from I-Am-Chen, Edda and last year’s winner, Tolu Coker and for spring/summer 2020 they introduced Wen Pan, a London-based womenswear label launched in 2018, making its London Fashion Week debut.
Wen Pan, a graduate from Central Saint Martins, who has worked for renowned fashion houses including Christopher Kane and Alexander McQueen, fuses the spirit of oriental recluses with romantic grunge aesthetics, with the use of raw fluidity and layers of textures, which creates a “quietness in chaos,” explained the emerging designer, while also celebrating the “confidence in imperfection”.
While other Merit Award winners have produced beautiful collections, none have seemed as put together as Wen Pan, she is a designer who understands her aesthetic, with her timeless deconstructed pieces, part romantic, part grunge, offering womenswear that allows the wearer to showcase their individuality and freedom.
Having previously shown in Shanghai and Paris, Wen Pan really made her London Fashion Week debut count, showcasing a spring/summer 2020 collection exploring the beauty of brokenness, traces of human presence, Chinese ancient recluses and the 1990 grunge.
There was a broken beauty in the juxtaposition of her layered grunge with the light and airy, clean palette of muted greens, blues and faded sandy cream that worked beautifully with the contrasting floral prints and textures, mixed with linen layers and sheer silk fabrics with rough cotton drapery and asymmetric cutting.
Not only was there a thoughtful flow through her collection, with the movement in her oversized silhouettes from flowing trousers to maxi dresses featuring raw edges, textured detailing, and subtle embroidery, but also with the presentation itself, with the catwalk framed by dried field flowers that were also carried by the models, and subtly dropped as they walked the runway.
The contrasting elements, whether the colours, the fabrications, or the silhouettes, which seemed to perfectly balance between being shapeless and form-fitting, really showed the intentional imperfections as well as the romantic rebellion working through her designs. Wen Pan is definitely a talent to watch.
Following her impressive London Fashion Week debut, FashionUnited spoke to Wen Pan about where her inspiration comes from, what showing in London means to her, as well as what we can expect next from her.
Five Minutes With…Wen Pan, Fashion Scout Merit Award Winner
What does it mean to you to be named Fashion Scout's Merit Award winner?
I’m very grateful for being the Fashion Scout Merit Award Winner. I’m happy to have the chance to show the SS20 collection during LFW! I look forward to continually share my point of view about femininity: a delicate balance between prettiness and roughness.
What inspired your spring/summer 2020 collection?
The inspiration for SS20 collection is human trace in abandoned family houses in Shanghai. From the ripped floral wallpapers to the cosy bedrooms. I can feel a sentimental presence of the past, a subtle resistance to the ruined surroundings and the cruel reality.
Where do you get your inspiration when you’re designing and creating your collections?
The design journey always starts from human traces and ends with deconstructed pieces which translate brokenness into delicacy. I like to show an image of quietness in chaos and celebrates the confidence in imperfection
What’s special about showing here in London?
I decided to base my brand in London because I find the city a deep source of inspiration. I’m always inspired by my surroundings. The road between my studio in Dalston and my home is full of surprise and inspirations. London is a city that encourages me to think about fashion bravely, while I’m from China, I have an oriental taste deep inside. The combination of these two really shapes my own aesthetics.
If not London, then where would you rather be showing?
Who is your target customer?
We have our own style and approaches. We want to provide an alternative option lying between grunge and oriental aesthetics. I always want to make clothes that people can interpret with their own lives.
I make semi-deconstructed pieces that allow the wearer to infuse garments with their own movements and experience - every piece will be personally connected with the wearer. I’m excited to see more and more people find themselves relaxed, pretty and cool in our garments.
Goals for your label in the next 12-months?
I will keep going at my own pace, and take this journey in a relaxed way. In the near future, we hope to produce products in wider categories, especially interiors, in order to build an overall aesthetic system. I also seek for any chances to collaborate with artists.
How did you get into fashion?
I discovered design when I read an article about Seven Sages of Bamboo, a group of scholars in ancient China. It only described what they wore, but I could picture how they were living and the cool, careless, ‘anti-social’ attitude they had 1,000 years ago. That was the time I realised fashion or clothes could say many things.
One piece of advice you’d give a student fashion designer starting out?
If you weren’t a fashion designer - what would you be?
Wen Pan boasts a global stockist list including Opening Ceremony, Espejto, YMOYNOT, YoungBritishDesigners, CHUSHI and Selfridges, where her autumn/winter 2019 work is currently part of the Design Gallery Installation.
Images: courtesy of Fashion Scout - Wen Pan SS20