Meet Anson Lau, 22, the textile designer who recently graduated from Central Saint Martins. Born in Hong Kong, Anson moved to London to study at CSM in 2012 and has embraced her adopted city with passion. In love with London’s culture, diversity, artists, museums and endless exhibitions, Anson has made a flat above Oxford Circus home with two other creatives who are also students at UAL.
From constant sketching as a child, to her first fashion project at high school which she made out of paper, “it was so ugly and awkward, but I was so excited about it,” she says with the benefit of hindsight and a CSM BA under her belt, Anson has developed her niche creating experimental, textural, and three dimensional textiles that ask questions and do not take anything for granted over the last few years. We chat to Anson over matcha tea lattes at Yumchaa in the stunning CSM building that she knows so well to see what she is up to post uni life and her plans for the future.
The Fashion Conversation: CSM is such an incredible creative place that offers so many opportunities to experiment and find out your passions, what are some of the most important things you have learnt at CSM?
Anson Lau: At CSM, they aren’t trying to train you as a worker, they are trying to get you to develop your own voice. It’s kind of like mind tapping. When doing research, you don’t just look at photos, you go out and look many different kinds of things. Experiences and life become your inspiration. We take photos, we do collages and tend to avoid magazines. We get taught not to conform to trends. It is so different to how ‘research’ is done in Hong Kong when you are usually stuck in a library and taught to think in one way.
TFC: Your graduate collection, ‘Skin Implantation’ which was featured in the New Designers London exhibition earlier this year was all about pleasure and pain, comfort and discomfort, can you tell us more?
AL: I use lots of different colours, shapes, structures and materials to create garments and samples through print and knit. I love experimenting, especially with texture. For my ‘Skin Implantation’ collection, I combined yarns and threads with cocktail sticks and toothpicks to explore the notions of comfort and discomfort, pleasure and pain. While the fabric might look comfortable to the eye, wearing the fabric is not. I wanted to create something that might be considered dangerous and scary, that people might not want to get too close too while also being simultaneously quite feminine. That’s why I used pink – inspired by the colours of the human body.
TFC: What are your plans now that you’ve graduated from CSM? Are you tempted by further study, maybe an MA?
AL: I want to stay in London, I’ve already applied for a working holiday visa. London is such a vibrant creative place, much more energising than Hong Kong. I’ve just got a job at The Albion Knitting Company (a specialist knitwear factory for luxury brands based in London) which I am excited about. I’d also like to do some freelance work and take on little projects and keep making interesting samples. Before I graduated I wanted to study an MA, but now that I have some industry experience I don’t think I really want to study pure fashion again. I think I would like to try something else, perhaps business with a marketing or management focus. But I am going to work for a couple of years and then see how I feel and what I think will be the right decision at the right time. The next two years I want to really work on developing myself – learning lots and enhancing my skill sets.
TFC: What do you love about London? Why do you want to stay?
AL: I always feel like London is magic, there are so many people here, there’s all this fashion, people don’t think that you’re weird, it’s just unique and I always get such a great feeling. In my first year at CSM I had pink hair. When I was in Hong Kong, people kept looking at me and judging me, my parents would say, “Can you try to be normal?” or “What are people going to think of you?”. Here in London, people are so accepting and celebratory of each other. People would come up and compliment me on my pink hair, and want to find out how I did it. Londoners have a very different outlook to life.
TFC: You’ve said you are going to work on developing yourself the next couple of years, exploring different techniques and learning as much as possible. What’s the ultimate goal?
br>a AL: Ultimately, I really want to become a designer for myself, however I think it would be very stressful. I would love to create really special pieces, nothing too commercial, which people wear occasionally and treat like art. This is something I would like to do later in life, but definitely not now.