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Backstage at Yuhan Wang SS19Photography Charlotte O’Shea

Yuhan Wang is the designer exploring the complexities of femininity

As the latest addition to the Fashion East line-up, Wang made her LFW debut this weekend

“The women in the paintings of Chinese artist Gai Qi have always inspired me,” explains Yuhan Wang, who made her London Fashion Week debut this weekend, of her influences. “I especially love his piece Dreams of a Red Chamber. The figures in it are portrayed using delicate outlines, wearing long gowns with flowing sleeves. None of their curves are exposed, and yet you still have a sense of how attractive they are. That kind of subtle femininity and sexuality really resonates with me.”

The designer first explored the area between concealment and exposure as part of her MA at CSM. Living opposite a hotel, every day she saw passers-by trying to get a glimpse of what was going on behind the net curtains that hung in its windows, as she herself tried to imagine the stories that were playing out in each room. “It became a metaphor, then, for how women use their clothes to cover and reveal themselves,” she says.

This season, not long after graduating, Wang joined ASAI and Charlotte Knowles as the latest designer on the Fashion East line-up. “It’s a bit like being in a family,” she explains of the experience so far. “There’s a lot of warmth and support, and you’re pushed to challenge yourself and not be afraid.” On Sunday, she presented her first collection as part of the trio, with an offering that further developed on the themes of her MA.

“It’s all about the relationship between dressing for oneself versus dressing for public view,” says Wang. “I think it’s interesting how people are intrigued by a woman’s private sphere, and what she’s like behind closed doors. I think it’s connected to my Asian roots, and the way women are conveyed on that side of the world. I’m trying to find a way to translate this concept of fragility and softness from my own perspective.”

This manifested itself in sheer, chiffon tops that simultaneously covered and exposed the models’ chests, satin skirts that were ruched at one side to offer flashes of knees and calves, and panelled dresses with cut-out detailing that allowed glimpses of the hips and torso, all in a palette of soft pinks, blues, and white. And while the clothing appears delicate, the woman wearing it is anything but, according to Wang. “She’s someone with a strong sense of self-belief, she’s full of personality, and she radiates kindness.”

The theme of contemporary femininity is something Wang is keen to continue exploring and unfurling in the coming seasons, too, having worked under designers including JW Anderson, who has himself spent his career dismantling the concept of gender. For now, though, she’s happy to take a break following her first Fashion East show. “I just want to continue being who I am, and doing what I love,” she concludes.