By Jessica Laiter
A principle of Taoism, Wu wei signifies that life will come as it may, that we must live our lives in a state of being where our actions are effortless, kind of like going with the flow. In return, we lower our stress levels and are able to handle any situation that may arise. It is actually of the highest virtue for someone to live by means of Wu Wei.
The highest virtue is to act without a sense of self
The highest kindness is to give without a condition
The highest justice is to see without a preference
To most of you, that seems like an impossible and actually quite irrational task. Vega Zaishi Wang however hopes to base her entire career and even her brands existence on this principle. Building a brand is more stressful itself than being a designer. So to alleviate the stress of it all, a seemly choice is to let the brand speak for itself.
“Unbroken Luolan” collection by Vega Zaishi Wang
Situated in the alleyway of a historic Hutong community within Beijing, the independent Chinese designer welcomes visitors from all over the world. Attracting international attention after having spent many years studying abroad at London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins, and taking on internships with high-end labels such as Michiko Koshino, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, Wang has grown into a well respected and established designer of the industry.
“Unbroken Luolan” collection by Vega Zaishi Wang
At the young age of 27, Wang has managed to shock the fashion world, starting with her Alpha Lyrae collection for The Creators Project, which celebrates visionary artists who use technology in ways that push the boundaries of their chosen industry. Inspired by her parents, both electrical engineers, Wang worked with electroluminescent material (you know, that stuff that makes the dials on your car dashboard light up) to add this cool illuminated effect to her collection. She was also inspired by magical bioluminescent creatures living under the sea. She worked with UFO Media Lab and Musician Zhang Shou Wang to complete the entire exhibit which really helped to set her apart from other emerging designers.
And if you’re wondering where the name “Vega” stems from….No it’s not Chinese. Obviously intrigued by the mechanisms of our universe, Wang’s chosen name is one of the brightest stars in our night sky, a heavenly body also referred to as Alpha Lyrae. Galactic phenomenon are present throughout her other collections as well.
Upon her return to China, Wang started out by exploring one of the countries biggest 2nd tiered cities, the scenic coastal city of Xiamen in southeast China. On a trip to Beijing for a photo shoot, lightening struck. Onlooker and celebrity actress Fan Bing Bing appeared as if out of nowhere, loved what she saw and bought the first collection in its entirety. Not a bad way to start! This motivated Wang’s permanent move to Beijing.
Her store in Jianwai, Soho district of Beijing, as mentioned above, calls the Hutong home: one of China’s more traditional housing types for which Beijing is notorious. Multiple families would live within the confines of each courtyard, setup similarly to the commonplace townhouse community in the United States (just not nearly as cookie cutter). Hutong courtyards sit like ducks in a row, creating snake-like alleyways across the city. Unfortunately, as China has continued to develop, Hutongs have been bulldozed to make room for skyscrapers and such. There is an ongoing debate over whether or not this was the correct decision since traditional culture was erased along with it. Wang’s set up really shows the value Chinese put behind their historic landmarks and culture, which I think many buyers appreciate, especially those within China. Hoping to preserve the original aesthetics of the unit, original antique sewing machines, oversized scissors and spools of thread have been thoughtfully rearranged to suit their new surroundings, in addition to a lattice staircase and traditional courtyard (PHOTO).
Many younger Chinese consumers are attracted to the higher quality niche brands so independent designers like Wang are gaining rapid popularity.
At Beijing Design Week, Wang collaborated with Beijing based German furniture designer Christian Melz. She is known for her consistent use of materials from Italian fabric brand Cerruti 1881 which stands as more than just a bridge between cultures. It’s about partnership, it’s about dialogue. This brand is concentrated on fusing together tradition and modernism, male and female, east and west. With this comes the acceptance of change.
Unlike in historical China, Wang staunchly emphasizes the importance of feminine independence. She disapproves of the social convention dictating that women should marry into comfort instead of building a suitable lifestyle for themselves.
“Women shouldn’t rely on things like men or money. They should have their own dreams and career,” she has said.
Zaishi Wang (VEGA ZAISHI WANG)
Her previous collections have drawn from Chinese culture and geography such as in the “Unbroken Luolan” collection for Fall Winter 2013 (Loulan was an ancient oasis city of the Silk Road). The story she recreates is based on the modern day version of Princess JieYou. In short, this drama tells of a princess of Han descent who marries the Chieftain of the Wusun clan, to seal a political alliance; unexpectedly finding true love in their union. Her wisdom and compassion for the people of Wusun not only neutralized the threats against the Han Dynasty, but also spread Chinese custom to the west, encouraging the exchange of culture. Combining fashionable silhouettes and military uniforms, she draws on the tenacious vitality of the Gobi desert and represents female courage.
In her Spring Summer 2014 collection Love Again, Wang showed her sustained interest in technology and innovation. She continued her collaboration with Cerruti 1881 and they together decided to utilize unique 3D fabrics into the new collection. Employing a special weaving technique, silver cotton threads and color fibers were woven into three-dimensional triangles, such that each little pyramid reflects light in many different directions. To complement the fabric, Wang added generous pleats to many of the separates, such that the fabric’s characteristics became the trademark of the collection.With this new collection, Wang has created a new-generation
“Vega Girl,” loves life and is, as she says, “independent and strong, gentle and beautiful.”
Make sure to check out her newest collection on her website
The Author: Based in New York City, Jessica Laiter is inspired by diversity. She’s the editor of Chinese Graffiti, a blog that feeds her passion for the fusion of tradition, modernity, fashion and culture in Eastern Asia. Also be sure to follow @ChineseGraffiti on Instagram.
This post is also available in: Inglês