Once again Feng Chen Wang has produced a really strong unisex sportswear collection with a a unique feminine undercurrent. Wang’s mostly autobiographical sportswear strikes a technical balance that’s very hard to achieve. As a designer, she’s known for for taking her personal experience and creating covetable, wearable clothing that reflects a certain mood. In her latest Spring 2020 collection Wang returned to her roots in Fujian Province.
Inspired by a visit to her grandmother, the collection feels both urban and rural, with modern textiles in sporty silhouettes that utilize the traditional, artisan handcrafts from the region she grew up in. including an indigo based hand dyeing technique called Lan Yin Hua Bu. Wang worked with two local workshops from her hometown village to produce much of the fabric used in the collection, which is substantial considering the economic support it can provide to endangered heritage craft. Instead of using traditional Chinese patterns that are essentially stenciled onto fabric to create very graphic indigo and white patterns, (often floral in style) Wang applied a soy paste to the fabric which was then dipped in indigo to create fine wisps of blue trails of smoke, and ephemeral tendrils of color much like drops of dye in water.
Wang’s signature architectural treatment of jackets with transparent technical fabrics spliced as windows onto solid garments added to the gentle, wistful mood. In other garments tailored skeletal structures of overlapping panels created a soft armor-like feel. Her extended length trench coats appeared this time in soft translucent sky blue with cropped, Kimono like sleeves, and a more classic beige with deconstructed details. The lilac and neon green acid washed denim is sure to be a hit, and is right on trend with the renewed interest in early 90’s fashion. Wang’s earthy color palette reflects the contrast between an urban and rural landscape with hazy sky blue and sandy neutrals lifted directly from nature. A vivid orange punctuates the collection similar to the red accents found in traditional Chinese decor.
The traditional Chinese basket weave Wang integrated into the collection proved a little trickier to pull off, with the most successful example being a black on black sweatshirt Wang wore herself. There were a few open weave knits that did a great job of translating the bamboo basket weave without being too literal, but her large, blown up scale bamboo panels inserted into jackets or wrapped as a half skirt are hard to imagine on the street. The closing pieces literally woven from bamboo showed off her technical skill, but felt disparate from the rest of the collection. However, the free-form weave design was beautiful and in some ways more interesting than the weave translated in fabric.