Interview with Vivienne Tam
(The following is a transcription of a live-streamed interview webcast here on Monday, February 16, 2015.)
It’s been said Vivienne Tam’s clothing suggests “tolerance, global acumen, and a Fourth of July-faith in individual expression … [with] an idealistic globalism that transcends politics and offers a more enchanted, peaceful world.”
Born in Canton, China, Vivienne Tam moved to Hong Kong when she was three years old. Her bi-cultural upbringing in the then-British colony was the first stage in the development of her signature East-meets-West style.
After graduating from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Vivienne Tam moved to New York where she thrived on the excitement and energy of the fashion world. New York became a home for her and a continuing source of stimulation for her designs.
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Her Fall-Winter 2015 collection is an urban romantic take on “chinoiserie” — the European concept of China, sparked by its imagination of the mystical and exotic Far East.
The aesthetic is characterized by intricate designs that blend ornate European design with rich imagery from the East — lush renderings of birds, pagodas, boats, bamboos, bridges and more — and was iterated in mirrors, furniture, wall coverings, draperies and decorative art objects that dominated interior and fashion design.
This season, Vivienne Tam partnered again with Pandora, an official sponsor of New York Fashion Week. Fashion Week Online had a rare opportunity to go backstage and meet this charming, inspiring designer.
Q:What was the overall theme of this season’s show?
It’s all about urban romanticism: essentially in the 17th and 18th centuries, when Europe imagined China but hadn’t seen the country yet. It was all very mysterious and exotic. You’ll notice the Victorian spirit with the high necklines, but the designs are also futuristic, with the metal details and structure skirts. I think it’s a very powerful combination.
You’ll notice the Victorian spirit with the high necklines, but the designs are also futuristic.
Q:Your signature “East Meets West” aesthetics are considered a triumph in both the fashion and art realms. What do you think is the biggest factor in your success?
I guess just being myself and loving what I’m doing. I like the challenge of finding pieces that inspire me and incorporating it into my work and into the clothing, to make it wearable.
Q:So how do you balance commerce and creativity?
The challenge is always to create something artistic that is wearable. I try to make history into something new, by incorporating Eastern and Western cultures.
The challenge is always to create something artistic that is wearable.
Q:Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Just meditating this morning, like I do every day.
Q:Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
Be yourself! And do what you love. You have to go with your heart and make sure your work represents you.
You have to go with your heart and make sure your work represents you.