Yayi Chen’s graduate collection “ in tran · sient ” takes root from her personal experience and observation growing up as a Chinese immigrant in Spain. “ in tran · sient ” is a collection of fashion, performance and film in collaboration with London-based artist Cathy Mou, which aims to question the overlooked and objectified labouring body of Chinese women in the European immigrant community.

The collection also explores the poetic relationship between these women’s invisible social identity and their impermanent home and working space, by transforming symbolic objects from the Chinese restaurant interior into wearable garments. Through Yayi Chen’s auto-ethnographic research, she derived the basic silhouettes of the collection from the tailored restaurant server uniform and traditional QiPao details from studying her family album, as well as interviewing immigrant women from the first wave of southern Chinese immigration during the 80s and 90s.


In Yayi Chen’s design system, women are fully covered by lace bodysuits (sponsored by French lace house Solstiss) and translucent knitted textiles (sponsored by Italian novelty yarn company Lineapiu) to reflect their invisibility. Her garments and accessories in collaboration with accessory designer Hau Yin Andree Kong are heavily adorned with mounting drop beads, flaring fringes and decorative knit jacquards which enhance the objectification of immigrant women’s body.

The transformable objects in Yayi Chen’s collection including the curtain, the frame, the table cloth and the Chinese screen, became a symbol of the mobility and impermanence both within people and objects in the diasporic community.


The most meaningful outcome from “ in tran · sient ” is the performance piece. The entire production ended up as a one-year-long community collaboration, where all members including designer, choreographer, performers, filmmakers and photographers all belong to the Asian community in Europe. The team aimed to use fashion and fine art as their new voice and medium to empower the immigrant women that still remains invisible today, not simply in the western society, but also in individual family systems.