The Knitwear Designer Who Continues To Bring Us Excellence
Photo Credit: Jade Berry
Zhi Chen considers herself more of a technician than a fashion designer but her intricate, knit designs promote her as both. Spending long hours studying different machinery and how to exploit fabric in various ways. This was definitely telling in Chen’s AW19 display that proves that knitwear is not just purposeful but also beautiful. In Chen’s SS18 collection the pieces were inspired by David Hockney, mainly in the blunt, minimalistic naming of his paintings. ‘A bigger splash’ (1967) for example features in a lot of her work in the bright, pastel blue seen in her designs.
These pieces continue to stun us with this AW19 collection with a sense of elaborate yet disparate colouring, reflecting a semblance of his often abstract style. Chen defuses the idea that knitwear is associated with warm, comfy, winter wear by adorning each model in body-con knit dresses that could serve as a dinner style outfit. This was accompanied by every-day wear of flared cotton trousers and long-sleeved hooded pieces to further instil the versatility of the knitwear. The 60’s style in general persists in Chen’s work as the models all had the crimped hair, loose fitting clothing, box-y outer layer, big hooped earrings that we associate with the era. There is also a Cubist nature to the collection that cannot be ignored presented in wonderful woollen pieces.
Photo Credit: Sophie Todd
Chen is constantly pushing the boundaries on what we assume knitwear is appropriate for. The composition of this work is unrivalled by textiles and printing of the same ilk. The designs are not only something to wear it is an example of modern art inspired by former artists and fashioned in complex woollen tapestries hidden in clothing.