Take an exclusive look inside the new issue of 1 Granary
Rui Zhou is the Parsons graduate whose design process is like a stream of consciousness. Taken from Issue 6.
1 Granary Issue 6 dives into the work and lives of fashion designers today, stepping away from the conventional profiles and editorials, focussing instead on raw work and anonymous, unfiltered testimonies. Order your copy here.
For Rui Zhou, inspiration and concept are poles apart. The former comes from anywhere: familial relations, everyday observations, personal experiences. The latter is mostly undefined. Rui believes her work doesn’t need to have a conceptual storyline, as long as it communicates her emotions.
Research. Isn’t that how a collection is born? Hours spent in the library poring over books, browsing artworks, articles, and archives that could have the potential to yield something extraordinary. For Rui, this doesn’t hold true. Her designs are a culmination of her thoughts–carefully selected and nurtured over a period of time. As a starting point, she prefers to look within rather than around her. Rui analyses every sensibility, questions them and waits for them to materialise into images. She hardly sketches, as she feels that it limits her creativity to a mundane sheet of paper.
The blurry, but overpowering image in her head takes form day by day. Rui interprets it through knitting her textiles and envisioning her silhouettes. It can also go the other way around, where her designs – with their open yet overlapping structures – lead her to the textile. If the process hits a standstill, Rui starts afresh. There are no steps to follow because, as she puts it, designing a collection is not a scientific experiment. The only rule is to continue a systematic process of trial-and-error, until the results are a lifelike portrayal of her mental picture. You can question all her creative decisions from inception to execution – from yarns to the final garment – and the explanation would always remain the same: it felt right. Rui’s rationale is intuitive.
Everything eventually does come together in a meaningful symphony, but to her, the outcome always feels incomplete and insufficient. For the quintessential artist, satisfaction and perfection are elusive. In this regard, Rui fits the bill. Even on the ramp, unknown to onlookers, she identifies her finished collection as a work-in-progress.
Photography Zhi Whei
Styling Katie Burnett