Another day, another Latitude prompted post. Meet Japanese fashion designer and graphic artist Gloria Yi Ling: fresh from London College of Fashion, her sophisticated 'East meets West', Fine Art inspired approach to fashion is sure to charm the likes of London's most cultivated fashion crowd before you can say 'A/W 2013'. I could just say I 'met' Gloria during Saturday's post-fashion show Design Salon in The Painted House, but that would be somewhat of an understatement. I was pretty much bowled over by her effervescent personality before I'd even had chance to scold the band of unruly teenagers nabbing bits of Samara's 'candy floss trees'. Bouncing merrily around the Faraway Forest, brightening up rained out punters with talk of her collection and confessions of adoration for her beloved Labrador, Favor, chancing upon Gloria was such a delight I just had to share her story with the rest of you. So here's a Q&A with the Labrador-loving designer herself:
1. You hail from across the waters, from the faraway land (for us!) that is Japan and where a lot of your design inspiration comes from. So what made you want to study in London?
I lived in both LA and New York, then I went back to Asia where my mother and father were living, but in between all of this I visited London for the first time in 2005 and it was love at first sight. I fell in love with all the museums and that was it. I’ve not thought about living or studying in any other place ever since.
2. Evidently part of your collection has been inspired by Hokusai’s famous woodblock print of The Great Wave of Kanagawa, a work synonymous with 19th century Japanese art. Why did you choose this one in particular?
I was looking for a certain craft to help build my collection and discovered that Japanese woodblock printing was similar to the way I use screen-printing for my own textile design, so I decided to combine the two techniques to create something new. I also mixed this style with influences from the culture of the Scottish Highlands - it’s what inspired the draping effect in my collection. I just really love the idea of a culture-clash; the way the chemistry of the two opposing elements can create something innovative and exciting.
Click the link below to keep reading about Gloria Shizico Yi
3. As you mentioned, your work mixes influences from both East (predominantly
Japan) and West. So who, or what, do you count as your main inspiration from the
Definitely Western Art. For me, I see art in this part of the world as a treasure for mankind. It’s totally different from eastern culture. In fact, I don’t really even think much about eastern elements when I design or paint, I just do it, maybe it’s in my blood. But when it comes to Western influences I am hugely inspired by the great masters from hundreds of years back, From El Greco to contemporaries like Gerhard Richter. I am totally obsessed with El Greco’s modern approach to painting (over 500 years ago!), Michelangelo’s GODLY works (his work is beyond genius), Van Gough’s soulful brushstrokes, Picasso’s ever-evolving style and his desire to reinvent himself over and over again - it is just so brave! I also love Mattise’s colour, his pure forms and lines and, lately, Gerhard Richter. I am so inspired by how he approaches a single element (mainly from photographs) and redefines the world he sees through his eyes, translating it into a painted surface. These masters were not born in the east and their work is not better or worse than the masters we have in the east, our cultures have just progressed and created art in different ways. Location, I think, is key for artists, and the above are all reasons why I too want to be in the West.
4. You’ve just graduated from LCF – congratulations! - so now what’s next for Gloria Shizico Yi?
I chose to be a fashion designer because of its fast paced, demanding nature. The need to consistently come up with new, exciting designs, season after season really motivates me to keep pushing myself and to grow as a designer.
The big dream would be to have my own label, but first I need to learn a little more about business and obviously need to find a way to finance it! My plan is to keep working on creating garments that reach out to real people, the real wearers - the people who breathe life into my work - so I am doing my best to make that happen. In the meantime I would love to find a brand (or a brand to find me!) with whom my aesthetic fits.
5. You’ve lived in Japan, the US and the UK with your beloved Labrador, Favor, so you’re a bit of a wanderer yourself. So, tell us, what are your top 3 favourite places to wander in the world?
New York, Lake Tahoe, London. I love Taiwan and Japan so much it almost hurts, but I expected too much of these places so I had to leave. New York is where I found myself back in 2003, Lake Tahoe is a place I’d love to grow old and London, oh I just don’t think I could leave! It’s a great location with such close proximity to Europe and there are just so many great museums and galleries! I just enjoy it so much!
6. And last but not least, being a fashion designer you must wander stylishly, so which essential items go in your travelling suitcase?
Jeans, I know it’s a bit dull, but a great pair of jeans really brings out the best in a woman’s body, no matter what size you are, as long as it is the right cut for you it will never fail to make you look good. Plus, you can dress it down or dress it up by pairing them with so many different pieces. Another dull answer (sorry!) is: a short dress. I can never get bored with short dresses. They are a great, lightweight option to pack in your suitcase and can take you from a chic restaurant to a night at the opera. People always seem to act in a friendlier manner to when you dress well in a foreign city!
To see more of Gloria's work, including examples of her quirky collages, graphic works and beautiful prints, visit her at shizicoyiarchive.tumblr.com