Parsons’ New School grad and rising designer Siying Qu, delicately balances nostalgia with streamlined, contemporary elements in her newest collection, “TWIST.” The powerful lineup is a deliberate attempt to blur the past and present, inspired by vintage photos of Qu’s grandfather and a fixation on old-school skateboarding culture. Qu combines thoughtful silhouettes and unconventional fabrication with traditional menswear elements to create a seamless, signature look. We caught up with Qu to discuss her love of menswear, personal design process and favorite designers.
As a female designer, what draws you to menswear?
“The strong logic within menswear attracts me. It seems restricting, but that pushes me to think outside of the box and still connect with my customer. I love this amazing tension.”
Who do you envision wearing your clothes?
“Anyone with a rebellious heart. Someone [who’s] not afraid to express or experience new things.”
Talk about your design process.
“I like being inspired by a person or a group of people as muses. I think about their appearance, behavior and attitude. Then I use fashion’s tools of draping, sketching and collaging to form a story about my muses. A big part of my process surrounds the 3D volume of the clothes in relation to the body.”
How does your fine art background influence your work?
“Fine art is about observing not only the outside world, but also the inner self. I find the search of emotion helpful when I design. I want to touch someone’s heart with my designs [and] make the wearer feel something.”
For “TWIST,” you were inspired by your grandfather and skateboarding. Can you describe how these two inspirations are reflected in the collection?
“The ‘TWIST’ collection is a combination of my nostalgia surrounding my grandpa’s childhood and a skater boy’s nostalgic feeling about ’50s skateboarding. I am inspired by their rebellious attitudes.
The color palate is mainly camel and grey, which reminds me of old photos, as well as an old camel wool coat of my grandpa’s. Then, I have elements referring back to the past. In [my first look], the pants that are folded at the waistband and secured with a chain belt are based on a story my grandpa told me. As a boy, he had to wear oversized clothes from his older brothers or father, so he had to tighten the waist to fit.
Oversized pants appeared many times in ’50s skater boy photos I saw, as well. I also developed ‘skater boy in-action’ prints, combined with traditional houndstooth plaid to reflect the idea of nostalgia. The silhouettes of tying, twisting and crossing are also a representation of how memory is a twist of past and present.”
Why the obsession with blurring the past and present?
“I grew up with my grandparents and great grandmother, so listening to their stories of the past always fascinated me. Combining the past and present creates an interesting contrast; that’s what creates the future, I believe.”
Which designers do you look up to?
“My favorites [are] Yohji Yamamoto and Raf Simons.”