>> Right now there's a thick of graduate show type posts coming up with round-ups of both RCA and Central Saint Martins students to feed the imagination, but it also helps to look back and remember some of the breakout graduates from a few years back and catch up with what they're doing right now. Remember Shao Yen Chen, from Central Saint Martins MA class of 2010? If you don't recall the name, you'll definitely have seen the fluffy clouds of carefully shaved nylon strands, built up in to dramatic volumes and featured in numerous editorials. Images of that collection have lingered on in the brain because the pieces were so singularly beautiful.
Since then, Chen, whilst still based in London has built up his business as a fledgling designer in his native Taipei in Taiwan. A quick glimpse at Chen's A/W 13-4 collection entitled "Stalker" and it's clear that he's followed an up and down path of textural clash-mash since his breakout MA collection, toning down the volume and the drama but experimenting with more of a variety of fabrics. Inspired by the black and white films of Bu√±uel, Dali, and Cocteau, Chen collages together a deliberately disjointed collage of velvet, faux fur, printed leathers and denim, deliberately pitting lux vs. trash in an interesting way. Juicy Couture pink velvet as I've dubbed it, is revived into Chen's loose interpretation of a comfy track suit, appliqued with a third eye, underscoring the surrealist theme. On the textural front, the sharp edges of mirrored leather and lazier cut-out tortoise shell pattern contrast with the soft frayed edges of denim and padded velvet. Chen also updates the dramatic action of flinging a fur stole around in a haughty fashion by dropping in his own faux fur stoles, contrasted with ripped denim jeans or slubby sweat pants. It's an aesthetic swerve towards something the leagues of off-kilter designers that are increasingly making sense, precisely because their choices are conventionally odd. Chen proved he could do ethereal and beautiful. Now it's his time to mix it up, get it wrong and then get it right again.