An admirer of art history and a modern couturier, Liu Chao has the perfect blend of Chinese and Parisian culture immersed in him. His love for both places does not go unnoticed as he tries to bridge the gap of ethnicity packed with strong creativity and flawless designs. He created his eponymous brand in 2016 that focuses on bringing a touch of modernism and contemporary finesse in the conventional couture looks. This young designer has his plate filled with empowering creative vision and admirable technical skills.
How does it feel to be a couturier, showcasing designs at the grand Paris Haute Couture?
Paris has the most talented designers and brands in the world which leads to very intense competition here. It is the city of art and fashion hence, the professional evaluation standards are higher than in other countries. The pressure is always there.
Tell us about the techniques involved in couture dress-making.
In the haute couture making, there is no inherent rule. All the cuts are developed separately according to the design draft. A simple little black dress will take several days to make the plates and all of the lengths must be perfect. A piece of cloth can only be hand-sewn with feathers and embroidery. No computer can do this. We also need to co-operate with the Paris embroidery atelier, which makes the making process much more complicated.
You worked at the ateliers of Hermés and Céline. How has it impacted your work?
When I was working at Hermès, I realised the importance of true ingenuity and the pursuit of flawlessness of each piece. At Céline, I learnt the skills of how to be a creative director, how to merge the sources of inspiration into a complete story and give the audience a better understanding of a brand’s true essence.
What impact did the culture of both China and Paris bring on your creatives?
As a Chinese designer, I am very passionate about the culture and art of my country. At the same time, living in Paris for 12 years has brought European art and culture into my inspirations. Therefore, I prefer to talk about the combination and collision of both cultures, which can wipe out different sparks.
Take us through your inspiration board for FW’19-20 collection.
The key words of FW’19-20 collection are the 80s, the businesswoman, Pete Burns and haute couture. Related to these fields, the elements that inspire me were collected and filled on my wall. Then, all the images and designs gradually start appearing in my mind.
You collaborated with the ‘Bamboo Art’ for this collection’s art direction. Enlighten us about this.
The Bamboo Art is originated from a traditional publishing house with over a four-hundred year history called “The Ten Bamboo Hall.” Rooted in unique traditional art under contemporary circumstances in China, the brand is dedicated to promote the integration between art and other industries. It contributes to building a humanistic and responsible organisation by launching diverse projects such as supporting academic research, recovering traditional artwork, promoting communication with international scholars, exploring the modernisation process of intangible cultural heritage, and so on.
How would you describe the woman adorned in your designs?
A woman is very diverse. She can be both soft and strong; a princess and a mother, and so on. My FW’19 collection talks about the strong and powerful side of women. One of my favourite female characters - works with Shiseido International styled in the 80s retro hair with unique accessories of the era found in the Paris retro market. She is dressed in wide shoulder pads, waisted suit jacket and other elements that create a sharp impact.
Is modernism the secret to your couture success?
As a young designer, I am attached to modernity and energetic elements. Although I love classic haute couture, I still aspire to change the traditional concept. I want to develop more diversity and possibilities that have never been tried before.
What next would we get to see from your brand house?
This is the main reason why I love this profession. I can tell a new story every season, and this mystery is only revealed on the day of the show. It’s an exciting process. I can say that the SS’20 collection is full of romanticism and love - a gift which I want to give to my mother.