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East London 2012: Yang Du

As part of our 'Is East London Dead?' debate, we speak to the Chinese designer before she leaves the area about her time there as a fashion student

As part of our 'Is East London Dead?' feature in the current issue of Dazed & Confused, we spoke to fashion designer Yang Du about her time living on Columbia Road as a fashion student and the local creative community. As the area continues to go through integral changes since the last 15 years, join the debate by uploading your memories of east London on the 'A Secret History of East London' project, mapping your own personal involvement.

Dazed & Confused: Who are you and what do you do for a living?
Yang Du: I am a fashion designer, styling feature films, collecting toys, teaching, travelling... I make my living by selling my collection each season at Fashion Week.
D&C: Where in East London are you based?
Yang Du: I used to live in a tower block just off Columbia flower market with a friend, recently moving out to west London in a shared flat.
D&C: What first attracted you to the area and how long have you been working here?
Yang Du: I was living and working in east London for about 4-5 years during my degree and afterwards, it's a very nice place to meet creative friends.
D&C: How has East London changed the most since you've been here? Why do you think that is?
Yang Du: There are new buildings, and building work going on everyday, the rent rises up again and again because it's a very attractive area for young people to live in.
D&C: What is the most exciting part of your local creative community?
Yang Du: I used to love to pop into Gilbert & George in the early morning at Brick Lane just before the market opened, now it's all getting a bit commercial.

D&C: Has the area informed your creative work at all and if so, how?
Yang Du: Yes, I used to stop people on the street to take photos at Columbia Road flower market... it's such a fun place to catch the excitement in the everyday life.

D&C: What's your favourite East End hangout?
Yang Du: My favourite fish & chip store on Hackney Road called simply the Best Fish & Chips in Town, I love it!
D&C: What are you going to do during the Olympics – stay or flee? Why?
Yang Du: I will see.

D&C: Is East London dead?
Yang Du: People are often saying that these days everything is changing, and you just don't know where this is this going. I guess death isn't the end?!

Dazed Digital invites you to map your east London memories on our timeline, 'A Secret History of East London'. Get involved HERE!

Photo by Jamie Hawkesworth