Ones to Watch: Shao Yen

Photography by Magdalena Golembiewska
Showing third on the Ones To Watch bill, Shao Yen presented an accomplished and assured collection; proving tht the designer has continued to hone his creative vision since his (all-white) CSM graduate collection last year. For Spring Summer 2012, Yen blended daring flashes of skin with fluid silks and gossamer fine cobweb knits, that seemed to float off the human form, trailing across the floor with every step. Post show, a tired but up-beat designer revealed his inspiration. “It started with an amazing black and white photograph of prostitutes and I incorporated this into my love for 80’s and 90’s streetwear.”
Silk dresses and cropped tops were sculpted and manipulated into unexpected shapes by leather belts and buckles, the heavy-duty work wear aspects in direct contrast to the flowing textures, the S&M vibe reiterated with twisted and knotted fabrics, and statement soft-leather chaps. These are Gothic Grecian sensibilities fit for the modern age. Cheeky peek-a-boo reveals, thigh high splits and sheer knits evoked a subtle tension that was juxtaposed against liquid luxe fabrics. Yen denied his conceal and reveal technique was a shock tactic. “I was interested in looking at ways the body could be exposed”, he explained. “I wanted to explore unexpected regions, and look at how exposure can cause different meanings.”
More conceptual pieces included plastic 3-D wire dresses, the looped design also applied to clutches and, in the first exit, a structured headpiece, in a nod to sci-fi chic. But, unsurprisingly, it was the knits that made the boldest statement. Pushing the boundaries of what is conventionally perceived to be 'knit', Yen spun fine gold threads into complex dresses, frayed tendrils and devore effects added surface interest. It's refreshing to see a young and emerging designer balance commerce with creativity, and Yen seems to have got the balance just right. We approve!
Text: Victoria Loomes  
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