Taking the notion of ‘getting a second pair of eyes’ to a whole new level is Parsons alumna Weiran. Her graduate collection “Visions of Animals” explores what the world looks like through the eyes of animals, travelling further than human perception. Breaking all conventions, the textile designer pushes the boundaries of fashion and technology, which lead her to be featured in the November issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK, discover how exactly she challenges the fashion industry, animal style!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, you’re originally from China, yet moved to New York to pursue a degree in fashion, have you always been infatuated with fashion and why did you decide to study at Parsons School of Design?
I have always wanted to study fashion design and chose the Fashion Design and Society MFA program at Parsons because the curriculum values nurturing students’ ability to work with textiles even if it is a fashion design program. Also, it constantly pushes us to explore our internal design philosophy and our interaction with the external society, all of which are very important in the learning process of an independent fashion designer.
"Also, it constantly pushes us to explore our internal design philosophy and our interaction with the external society, all of which are very important in the learning process of an independent fashion designer."
2. With your graduate collection, you aim to create a new visual language, what inspired this abstract concept and how is this translated in your garments?
Just like its title “Vision of Animals”, the collection is inspired by my curiosity of what the world looks like in the eyes of animals and beyond human perceptions. Because of different biological structures and organ functions, the realities animals experience is very different from our human perceptions. Through a series of digital augmentation, I transformed the visual characteristics of different animals into textiles and silhouettes. I created a new visual language by translating the visual elements in the worlds of different animals into the actual materials of a fashion collection.
3. You seek the boundaries, and the merger of digital innovation and fashion, how do you implement digital innovations in your collection, and what go you interested in this topic?
I will continue to merge digital software and technology with fashion in ways such as applying these technologies in my initial research of concepts and transforming my project’s digital visual construction into physical garments. For example in this collection, I simulated animals’ visions using thermal sensor and Adobe After Effects. Later on, I developed my very own image processing method to transform these visuals into textiles that encapsulate the concept. In other projects, I have tried new technologies such as 3D scanning and rendering, the combination of lights and fabrics. As a designer, I believe breaking from the conventional practices is necessary and inevitable I work in explicit relation to the application of current technology to push the boundary of fashion design and explore new possibilities.
"I created a new visual language by translating the visual elements in the worlds of different animals into the actual materials of a fashion collection."
4. What stands out in the use of colour and the bold shapes of your final collection, could you lead through your design or thought process for these features?
After researching and analysing the properties of animals’ visual systems, I simulated what the worlds would look like in the eyes of three selected animals, birds, snake, and fly using digital software and photo processing. I then used the layering technique to realise these unique visual characteristics, such as infrared thermal vision, red ultraviolet rays, and compound eyes, in the development of colourboard and silhouettes, and ultimately the garments in their entirety.
5. What have you learnt during your time at university and what tips do you have for future fashion students?
I learnt never to limit my imagination of what things could look like, their visual potentials, keep reinventing objects we take for granted in the world, seeking to understand and define broader abstract concepts. I want to encourage my fellow fashion designers to have the courage to try and explore, never set boundaries to yourself, and fashion.
"I learnt never to limit my imagination of what things could look like, their visual potentials, keep reinventing objects we take for granted in the world, seeking to understand and define broader abstract concepts."
Discover Weiran's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens