With focus on construction and detail, Dylan Leung is a first year Fashion Design with Marketing student at Central Saint Martins. His dual nationality as well as personal background experiences have a huge influence and impact on his work. Dylan is highly interested in multiple ways of pattern cutting and is exploring different techniques to form a persuasive narrative. The designer’s work was recently featured in the June issue of Harper’s Bazaar and we had big pleasure talking to him! To discover more read the interview! Enjoy!
You’ve grown up between the UK and Hong Kong, has your upbringing influenced your work in any way?
I’m constantly finding new ways in which my dual upbringing comes through in my work. It is something that has always influenced my designs, whether that’s literally through a concept/ narrative, or more subtly through a way of thinking. Having spent the majority of my life in the UK I draw a lot of inspiration from my surroundings here, I’m often influenced by the people closest to me and those that have been a constant in my life. This contrasts with the references I draw from my cultural heritage that comes from growing up in Hong Kong and having parents from both Hong Kong and Taiwan. The most influential aspect of my upbringing however would be the academic backgrounds of my family. Growing up heavily immersed in academia, a lot of my current influences come from reflecting their narrative in a field I'm passionate about; aiming to communicate my take on their interests through design and garment construction..
With a particular interest in your Grandfather’s work in “taking back” ancient Chinese artefacts from British colonies, how did you go about researching this topic?
I began by interviewing my grandfather and learning more about his practice. As my narrative development often starts with visual cues, I collected a lot of my initial research from my grandfather’s extensive archives of ancient Chinese ceramics. This gave me a rich visual starting point from which I began doing further research into pottery from specific time periods and provinces within China; this sparked an interest in China's porcelain manufacturing in the 18th century and I was drawn into looking at Asias porcelain trade routes. Upon research into these routes, Hong Kong stood out as a major trade port and this was particularly significant to me as my father’s side of the family are originally from Hong Kong. Continuing my research into the discovery of Hong Kong, I looked at the British colonisation of Hong Kong island in 1841 and this led to more detailed analysis of British naval uniforms.
I'm passionate about; aiming to communicate my take on their interests through design and garment construction.
How do you go about your design process, in terms of taking the concept to the final product?
My design process starts with forming a visual narrative through drawing and collage, I often feel as if my final designs are more considered and persuasive when they reflect a consistent narrative that is evident throughout the process. In the initial stages, I experiment with a lot of 3D work as I find toiling and generating rough 3D shapes to be the most effective as my design process is usually very focused on construction and finishing. I take these 3D experiments back into 2D and work into them through drawing and collage, this practice is repeated until I exhaust all my ideas; I find constantly switching between 2D and 3D to be the most effective way of generating a silhouette and structure that I find most appealing. This process helps me to achieve a final product that is refined enough to communicate my concept or narrative efficiently.
Continuing my research into the discovery of Hong Kong, I looked at the British colonisation of Hong Kong island in 1841 and this led to more detailed analysis of British naval uniforms.
Some may view your work as being quite controversial, do you think it is important to highlight these areas of our history?
I think it’s extremely important to highlight and reflect on these areas of our history if we are to move forward. When I design, I'm not focused on presenting my opinion but I want my work to engage in a conversation that touches on things I don’t feel is properly captured otherwise. Fashion mirrors society, It’s constantly challenging social norms and reflecting on our history; because of this, while my work could be seen as controversial, I see it as a means of expression in a time where many other forms of expression may be less accessible or denied.
What can we expect to see from you within your future designs?
I see my work as an extension of myself so I’d hope for my future designs to continue to reflect this. I am only in the first year of my fashion education so I’m still learning a lot and constantly opening up to new approaches when it comes to my work. Currently, I’m forcing myself to learn new things with each project and trying my best to stay clear of a distinct way of working so that my work can continue to evolve.
Fashion mirrors society, It’s constantly challenging social norms and reflecting on our history
Discover Dylan Leung full collection
Words by Holly Cramman