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Central Saint Martins 2011: Shu Ting Wang

The CSM BA graduate showed a collection of opulent dresses, inspired by fairy tales, here presented beautifully in a film shot under water

Taking something innocent and exploring its dark side is by no means an original pursuit in fashion but perhaps the reason it continues to fascinate designers and consumers alike is because it rarely fails to produce anything other than striking results. It’s a formula which has also proved no less successful for St Martins graduate, Shu Ting Wang. Inspired by fairy tales, the engineering turned fashion student has created a collection of opulent dresses and shrugs in rich fabrics, completely given over to a delicate, frill detail.

And despite her use of the kind of feminine drapery associated with romanticism, the intense palette - which sees orange, purple, blue and pink applied in the form of block colour - enables the dreamy collection to maintain a modern edge. Here Dazed speaks to the former student and showcase her collection as filmed by Anna Sundström...

Dazed Digital: What inspired you to turn to design?
Shu Ting Wang:
Before I came to London I obtained a BSc in Software Engineering. In 2004 during my software course I started designing my own dresses just as a personal hobby and it exceeded my expectations. That’s when I discovered what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

DD: What was the concept behind your collection?
Shu Ting Wang:
My concept for the project is broken and twisted fairytale. It may not seem like a very happy subject to most people but I wanted to do it in a bright and beautiful way to express that even when there is no happy ending in the tale, it can still be a wonderful story. I have always been interested in the relationship between the garments and the women who wear them. For me, the garments bring out the stories behind people. Everyone has some sad stories, but the clothes can make even sadness seem glamorous.

DD: What challenges do you face as a new designer?
Shu Ting Wang:
I think the biggest challenge is to be known by the public. And survive without money in the starting stage when working on the new collections.

DD: Which designers do you admire and why?
Shu Ting Wang:
Alexander Mcqueen, Viktor & Rolf and Rei Kawakubo. They have very strong identity and ethnics in their design and I love the way they build a world around each of their collections. They are more than clothes, a way to express the designer’s imagination. The way they experiment with ideas inspires me the most.

DD: What do you have in store for your next collection?
Shu Ting Wang:
I have found inspiration in the mineral room within The Natural History Museum. I want to play and develop with new textiles and materials based around gems and stones. Hopefully, they will give me a new direction for silhouettes and fabrics whilst keeping the touch of softness from my first collection.

Film by Anna Sundström
Photographs by Mikael Johansson