INTERVIEW WITH MONIKA CHIANG
Written by Lais Lacher
For Fall 2012, I was inspired by the jolt to the senses experienced when seemingly contradictory elements combine in unexpected ways, whether it be Jeff Koons’ groundbreaking exhibition at Versailles, the eclecticism of Daisy Fellowes, the façade of the Dresden Military History Museum or the work of acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid.
Monika Chiang showed her eponymous collection at New York City Fashion Week at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center on February 9th. The views of New York City from the penthouse were stunning, but they did not eclipse Monika Chiang’s collection of 15 looks, which were exhibited on a circular platform. This was Monika Chiang’s first showing at Fashion Week although she already has two stores located in both Los Angeles and New York City.
Monika Chiang’s collection was a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. There was an obvious equestrian inspiration in her collection from the fur covered riding hats to the riding style jacket and skirt. There was also a rock and roll influence with black leather incorporated into most of the pieces and metal studs on the shoes. Her apparel had many silhouettes from bomber style jackets to cropped cigarette pants. The main colors throughout the collection were black, hunter green, purple, navy, and maroon and she kept with many traditional fall fabrics such as wool, shearling, tweeds, and leather. Her collection also featured some interesting accessories such as leather opera length gloves, jeweled ear cuffs, spiky necklaces, high top sneakers and miniaudières.
Overall the collection had both a preppy and urban feeling that effortlessly worked together to make the collection unique, yet wearable.
- LAIS LACHER
Tell us about your current collection and what type of woman you had in mind while developing this collection.
The woman I design for is very strong, sexy and confident. This season I’ve played with the juxtaposition of different elements. I’ve experimented with various silhouettes. For example I have a leather jacket that is very sleek black leather body, but the sleeves are shearling and much more voluminous. Also I have this sweet demure looking dress from the front but when you turn around the back has a technical sort of mesh, which is very unexpected.
How did you get into the fashion business, and what are your recommendations for people trying to break into the industry?
I have been very fortunate I have to admit and I feel like I’ve always in my mind been in the fashion business. I have loved fashion since I was little when I made and created things. Professionally I started designing about two years ago. I recommend if you really love and believe what you do and you find that one person that really believes in you, and that’s all that it really takes to start is to have someone believe in you and invest and it can take off from there.
Did you go to fashion design school?
I did not go to fashion design school, but I grew up around very creative people. My mother was a designer, but also an artist and my sister who I was also very close with was also a fashion designer and they both went to Parsons. I have always been surrounded by and artistic and fashionable people.
You have lived all over the world, which places inspire you the most?
You know that is hard to say, but I would say New York will always be my home and that’s where I get the majority of my inspiration. But everywhere I go it really is so different. I have been to Bali many times lately. In Bali it’s about the colors, and the cracks in the concrete, you know… just patterns on the road. I pull inspiration from very obscure things where maybe a lot of people wouldn’t.
So it’s not just about the city in particular?
It’s not really about the city it could just be about a color in the city or the weather.
I noticed that you have both rock and roll but also equestrian elements in your clothes. Where did these inspirations come from?
I’ve always loved that aesthetic and I have always loved the rocker aesthetic and I find marrying two different styles that people would normally put in two different categories. I believe in individual style so it’s about mixing styles in different unexpected ways.
What is your opinion on fast fashion?
I think fast fashion is great for certain people. For me I am more of an investment type. I like to invest in quality pieces. I have never been that kind of person that buys and throws away from one season to the next and I think that shows in my individual style.
Do you have any other plans to expand your business?
I have added some lingerie pieces to my collection because I do believe in a full look and that’s why I have jewelry, shoes, handbags, and clothing all in one spot so that a woman can really find everything she needs and not have to look and search all over the place for it.
Are you going to open a store in the Washington DC area?
I never say never, I have actually never been to Washington DC, but I have always wanted to go. I am definitely open to opening a store in DC.
For more information on Monika Chiang’s work, please visit her website: www.monikachiang.com.
First photo courtesy of Monika Chiang. All other photos by Lais Lacher.