1960s China witnessed the rise of the cultural revolution, a political movement that was reflected strongly in the fashion of its time. With the importance of these newfound sociopolitical ideals, utilitarian and unisex fashion was rife – the idea was to place emphasis on collectivism. Clothing throughout the masses were very similar, a sea of dark blue or green tunic suits paired with white shirts. The idea of the collective through clothing in contrast with later eras of fashion that emphasized individualism sparked an interest in Womenswear Design graduate Haipu Zeng.
Her collection focuses on inclusion and individualism in society. She looks at the way individuals wish to express themselves through clothing whilst at the same time adhering to set societal and fashion standards, “people always want their self-identity to stand out while at the same time, no one wants to stand out of the box”. Fashioning her garments out of this delicate dichotomy, Zeng crafted a uniform collection reminiscent of the utilitarian theme of the 60s, at the same time each piece was designed to act as standalone pieces. With strong voluminous shapes and folded layers, it spoke to the subtle rebellion of much needed individualism.
Referencing the collective ideology, Zeng’s base palette was made up of greys and blues. She then introduced shades of orange in different materials to build on this base. Some shades more shockingly vibrant than others and varied in opacity – an indication to the degrees of self-expression each individual chooses to take. This concept was further reinforced with her deconstructive aesthetic – unfinished hemlines, swathes of patterns, oversized silhouettes and gaping cutouts.