As one of Northumbria’s twenty most innovative fashion students, Wen Yue Zhang’s debut collection was showcased at London Graduate Fashion Week 2016 where it was met with rave reviews.
Wen Yue Zhang’s graduate collection drew inspiration from the cult Chinese movie Farewell My Concubine (1993) which had a lasting impact on young people of Wen Yue’s generation. The film centers around two male apprentices to an opera school in the mid-1920s, following their journey of rigorous training to master the art form of the Peking Opera. In the film, the line “yet I am by nature a boy, not a girl”, is repeated pointing to the tradition of men performing female roles on stage, namely that of the coquettish female type, an aspect of traditional Peking opera that became Wen Yue's motif. Wen Yue notes that actors capable of performing female roles often have neutral features. Thus, neutral overtures became the framework to her collection. Applied on top of this foundation are traditional Chinese elements such as the use of brocade fabric, cloaking styles, headdress details and pattern specifications to be inlaid with modern techniques and fabrics.