When we think of the 60s, the London mods might come to mind with their sleek cut suits, but when Rongdi Ma thinks of the sixties, it’s the era of flower power and psychedelia that springs to mind. The Royal College of Art Designers presented her, brightly coloured collection earlier this year, and it’s one that is hard to forget. The combination of different materials, bold pops of colour allow her garments to entrance the viewers, let alone the wearer. In light of her feature in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar, we spoke to the Chinese knitwear designers about colour, psychedelia and the future of fashion.
You have just graduated from Royal College of Art with your ‘Psychedelic Dream’ collection, a very loud and proud collection, why did you opt for such a bright and bold colour palette?
Colour is the most important and central element of a psychedelic experience. With this collection, I experimented with various colour combinations and used plenty of bright and colourful yarns, in order to recreate these visual effect inherent to psychedelia. The multiple colour also represent the infinite possibilities of the imagination, and tie in a relationship between surrealism and fantasy.
"The process of experimenting colours and materials always inspires me to develop new ideas and techniques and create an even more creative outcome. "
You mentioned colour was a central theme, how did you exactly experiment and explore material and colour?
As a knitwear designer with an academic background in textiles, colours and materials are always the most important part during my design and development process. The process of experimenting colours and materials always inspires me to develop new ideas and techniques and create an even more creative outcome. Personally, I love using colour, so much so it almost become dramatic or abstract. In doing so, I create a strong contrast while enhancing the visual effects of my garments.
Not only the colour, also the shape of your collection draw attention to them, what was the inspiration behind their form?
During the development process, I gain inspiration from drawing and collaging other ideas together in order to find more. For this collection, I namely researched and collated visual references from the 1960s, as the my project has a close link with the psychedelic-movement of that time period. I reorganised and destructed the colour combinations and materials, to create garments that better illustrate the air of open-mindedness and fearless characteristics inherent of that time. My motto is “let the silhouette follow the texture”, which often leads me to surprising designs.
"My motto is “let the silhouette follow the texture”, which often leads me to surprising designs. "
Do you believe your other interests in religion and culture will play a part in your future garments?
Yes of course, I am really interested and love studying different cultures and certain aspects of their history. The story behind every topic and theme can be researched in such great depth and explored in so many different ways. In my opinion, everything is connected, yet the explanation of it is often based on the pre-existing knowledge or interests people have. I believe my interests in fields such as religion and culture will always play an important part when developing a new collection. There will always be an element of surprise, as to what will excite me next.
What have you learnt from this collection that you will implement in future designs?
While making this collection, I learnt new techniques and explored new materials with which I had never worked before. I will continue developing my skills and techniques to create even more interesting designs in the future. Besides, I have gained significant knowledge by working in such a specific historical and cultural timeframe, and being original and creative within these boundaries. It was very inspiring to research a topic in such a multi-disciplinary manner, and something I will definitely include in future collections.
"I believe my interests in fields such as religion and culture will always play an important part when developing a new collection."
Shop Rongdi Ma's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens