Victim Fashion Street designer on art and eco
“Slashed Vintage” might be a good description for Taiwanese-born designer Mei Hui Liu’s works of fashion. But one look at her Victorian inspired creations and you will be drawn in by the sheer organized chaos that translates into a fantasy story ripped out of story books. Her creations are bold and reflects a fierceness ready to burst from the innocence of the fabrics.
“Raw stitching, haphazard hems, and a cut and paste philosophy, her reconstructed pieces are an ode to romance and a nod to the street,” she explained on her website.
Her shop, Victim, opened in September 2001 in the highly desired Fashion Street, Brick Lane, and has become a hub for eccentric artists, DJs and a string of Fashion-enthusiast onlookers.
Leading up to London Fashion Week A/W 2012,Greenstream TV spoke with Mei Hui on her growth and her visions.
GSTV: Having lived in East London since 1998, how has fashion developed from then to now?
MHL: I think the fashion at that time was quite boring because it was the beginning of what is now known as “East London” and everyone would wear grey, but now there’s a new vibe amongst young people who have started to dress up and wear and mix vintage, and then started remaking vintage dresses and recycle so I think it was a very interesting area ever since I moved here and now I think it’s become the place if you want to see fashionable people you come to East London but back in the day you would to places like Portobello.
GSTV: Do you think people are more daring with their choices now?
MHL: Yes, if you want to dress up differently or look unique then you come to East London, you don’t see that in West London or even South London.
GSTV: On you collaboration with Min Tzu Chao, how did you hear about her and what did she offer that was different from other illustrators?
MHL: We didn’t know each other’s work at all and I normally collaborate with make-up artists, hairdressers, photographers but not someone who was a fashion illustrator. A mutual friend introduced us and it was a big challenge for me because I usually like to work with people whose work I already know of. I didn’t know anything about her and she didn’t know any of my work either. Somehow we found a way to work together because I had the idea and needed the structure to find three powerful women and to make a dress that has ‘life’. We called it ‘interlaced’ because the collaboration was like a relationship between us. She came into my world from the outside and discovered three strong people in my life and researched them. I gave her information on all of them. For an outsider to find all these interesting people and their stories and then illustrate them on fabrics and on prints, and then mixed them with my signature vintage and victoria fabric has been stimulating to say the least.
GSTV: What was the inspiration behind using all these different fabrics in your designs?
MHL: I think the inspiration came from me always being addicted to and inspired by vintage and antique fabrics, which I’ve been collecting for many, many years and I think it’s a sort of an addition, I just love it. For me, I don’t care about which period it’s from, I just mix things from different periods together for my collection. I think you can see from my designs, you can’t tell what era and it looks like everything is mixed from different eras and all come together and creates something modern.
GSTV: Do you always reuse fabrics in all of your designs?
MHL: Yes. I started using reuse fabrics because I loved the old Victorian lace, I found them unique and beautiful. I didn’t think about the environmental or recyclable factor at first – I just made clothes to wear. But then I started thinking about it more and more, the whole eco-fashion thing didn’t exist at that time. Afterwards, I began making clothes with what’s left from my studio. I prefer not to throw them away so I recycle instead and use every little piece and put them together.
GSTV: Who is your favourite designer?
MHL: I love people who have a really strong and original identity and style like Vivienne Westwood. Issey Miyake, I think he kept his own style and didn’t follow trends and fashion but create your own identity. For me, fashion in that way is more important.
GSTV: How influenced will your art work be from your work in fashion?
MHL: I think it’s a really big influence because I’ve always been doing things like this but I never thought I could turn it into a piece of art. In the past, people have always said “your work is like a piece of art”. When they wear my dresses they feel unique. It’s almost like one side reflects to the other side, and I think the connection made is just the beginning of the project but it certainly hasn’t reached its end yet, because I think the project will keep on growing and travelling to different cities.
GSTV: Do you have a favourite artist?
MHL: Work-wise, I like Steve McQueen. I like his work, I think it’s very strong and powerful and original. I appreciate many different artists and some elements of their work.
Liu will be showcasing her collection at the London Fashion Week A/W 2012′s Esthetica Show.