Savant S/S 09

Feng Feng Yeh gives a first taster of what to expect of her "Savant-Garde" designs at New York Fashion Week.

Fashion Show
Photography by Zandy Mangold
Feng-Feng Yeh (pronounced "fun-fun yeah") is the creative force behind fledgling New York womenswear label Savant, which unveiled its debut collection to packed room of extremely well-dressed hipsters at the Midtown Lumber Building this past Friday the 5th.

Originally a native of Tucson, Arizona, Feng-Feng enrolled at FIT in 2002 and made a seamless transition into New York's downtown nightlife scene by becoming an integral member of the Six Six Sick - a wild trio known for throwing killer fetes. And when this jack of all trades isn't designing for Savant or hanging out with her good friend and mentor designer Benjamin Cho, she currently works for Yves Saint Laurant, but has also held a stint with Narcisco Rodriguez and interned for Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein. With such a stellar resume and loads of experience, the future is looking bright for Feng-Feng and Savant.

As a prelude to the show, a short black and white film clip gave us a peek into the making of the collection, while also providing the designer's nostalgic albeit melancholy visions. The camera panned across ivy growing on a chain link fence, crumbling cracks in the sidewalk, an x-ray of a ribcage and an elderly man supported by a cane in the subway: all parallels on the delicate nature of the human anatomy. "[It] was inspired by medical braces used by invalids during the turn of the century and is a statement on the fragility of the structure of the human body," says Feng-Feng of her whimsical oeuvre.

Despite being packed like sardines into a small unairconditioned room, the show went on without a hitch (meaning it started only about half an hour late); Feng Feng's designs were well worth the slightly steamy wait. As Swedish pop darling Lykke Li's "Dance. Dance. Dance" set the mood, the first model appeared sporting a playful hot pink silk organza jumpsuit and grommetted navy dress coat in a cotton/silk blend. The mood was light, and the pieces were playful yet elegant with an antique, vintagey feel. Other looks included a white gingham blouse and lightweight denim shorts with cut out details, a ruffled navy bustier, and a black elastic bra layered over a gray cotton jumpsuit. Feng-Feng accessorized the models with chic leather driving gloves and quirky jewelry and buttons made from mother of pearl encased in resin.

The undeniable showstoppers of the night had to be the surreal bondage-style skirt and trousers made from elastic, which confined the models' frail bodies like imposing cages. "The elastic white pants were a magnified mirrored play on the gingham used in the white blouses," remarked Feng-Feng. Though Savant's pieces first appear to entrap the body, the overall ambiance of the collection is far from imprisonment. Wearers of Feng-Feng's designs ought to feel liberated from the limits of more traditional clothing.
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