The emerging designer talks the importance of puffers and creating a fashion film with Jordan Hemingway.
With LFW upon us, our minds are firmly planted on all things fashion. And so, to set the mood for what is sure to be a fabulous affair, we want to introduce you to one of the industry’s fastest rising names to date: Izzy Du.
Giving a new face to the causal puffer jacket, the Chinese-Canadian fashion designer has been hard at work dreaming up ethereal, exaggerated structures that – while overwhelming in premise – have each been crafted with attention to detail in mind, resulting in a graduate fashion collection of an other-worldly nature. With Izzy turning to West Coast Minimalism and Modernist Sculpture to inform her designs, and foam, feather down and wadding to craft them from, it becomes clear that she has a natural ability to tap into malleable qualities of materials and niche references to craft unique pieces, sure to send her to the helm of the industry that she is operating in.
When discussing her creative process, the designer explains, “I think most people just see the big shapes, the unconventionalness and all that, but it is actually extremely technical work. The process is very time and brain consuming. Some garments are up to 200 pattern pieces just for one piece and take over 80 hours to make. I work in a somewhat spontaneous manner, being able to adjust and respond on the spot is crucial. For a few of the looks, I lined up all the pattern pieces and cut the prints on the spot. It’s hard to get creative with technical patterns, so I think it is really important to be technically adept yet have the ability to stray away from tradition, using it as fundamental base knowledge.”
As she unveils her newest campaign, shot by the incomparable Jordan Hemingway, the designer sat down with Wonderland to discuss her affinity for the puffer jacket, the creative freedom a uniform provides, and the imminent arrival of her brand’s debut.
Head below to read our interview with Izzy Du…
Hi Izzy, how are you? Where are we speaking to you from right now?
Hey, I’m good but busy! I am in London right now.
How would you describe your childhood growing up, and did it influence your decision to become a fashion designer?
I grew up mostly in Vancouver, and though my family and I travelled around a lot when I was young, I was never in a very creative environment. I wore a school uniform for most of my childhood in Chengdu and in Vancouver. I used to resent it before I realised how much time and space it freed up to think and dream. Everyone wears a uniform. They wear one that identifies their role in society and another that they choose for themselves, that is ever-changing. But I always love to see how people choose to dress outside of their imposed uniform. So, in a sense, fashion began in quite a conceptual manner for me and because of this, I would see and respect the everyday garments that were real and the ones in my head that held no limitations, no obligation to abide by any physical boundaries that ‘regular’ clothing does; I keep the two separate as I think they have different beauty and focus points.
At what age did you realise that you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?
15, I’d say.
You are now making strides in the fashion industry with your hypnotic and daring collection. Did you anticipate this success when you were first designing?
Thank you! Not at all, I’m super glad people enjoy the collection, but I’ve been at this for a while now so I don’t tend to have many expectations haha!
Your designs are very abstract and metaphysical! What is the inspiration behind your uniquely structured designs? Were you exposed to any designers akin to you growing up?
I love a beautiful sunset more than anything, and all I ever want is to make that moment last. That soft spectrum of visibility between luminosity, reflective translucency and opaque glow, and the carefully staged outlines it creates. I design with the idea of tangibly preserving a moment by creating it in physical form. And not particularly no, I looked more to sculpture and landscape.
You are very open about your experience growing up within the Chinese culture. To what extent would you say that your designs adhere or defy the codes of Chinese Haute Couture? Also, are you more influenced by the Western world of fashion or the Chinese world of fashion?
There are elements in both cultures of dress that I love. But one thing they both share, which also truly represents me, are puffers. I’ve worn them all my life, on most days in most places. I am wearing one right now. I buy them, I wear them, I make them. Puffers are my life. I love skiing, rock climbing and camping and the multi-functionality of puffers is super interesting. You can really play with it as a medium and as a symbol. Down is a universal material used in both countries in the same traditional utilitarian manner, yet I see all its possibilities to be so much more.
What is involved in the process of creating your designs, do you have a particular idea that you base your collections on?
Many, many hours. I think most people just see the big shapes, the unconventionalness and all that, but it is actually extremely technical work. The process is very time and brain consuming. Some garments are up to 200 pattern pieces just for one piece and take over 80 hours to make. I work in a somewhat spontaneous manner, being able to adjust and respond on the spot is crucial. For a few of the looks, I lined up all the pattern pieces and cut the prints on the spot. It’s hard to get creative with technical patterns, so I think it is really important to be technically adept yet have the ability to stray away from tradition, using it as fundamental base knowledge.
You’re constantly pushing the boundaries of normality in your designs, how do you want others to feel when wearing your designs?
I just hope it adds some humour and beauty to the world! There is not a particular emotion; I mean people can love it or hate it. But it’s more important for me that my work incites some form of strong emotional response as I think in today’s world we are all overstimulated to the point of boredom.
How was your experience working alongside Jordan Hemingway to create the fashion film?
It was awesome. We met a few years back and it was nice that we were able to come together to do this – timings really worked out for this one. He has great energy, and we had a fun time on set!
The fashion film is very impressionistic and raw, what did you want to achieve with this film?
I think this shoot really shows how a garment can feel completely different in different environments. Just as how we cycle from day to night, I wanted the garments to have a strong response to light and darkness, thus the contrast, blend and disorientation of the two were what we were playing with.
A constant motif in your images and film are bare distorted tree branches, is there any symbolism behind this?
I envisioned this barren landscape from another world but yet familiar in feeling to ours and my set designer, Afra found these excellent branches.
Do you have any upcoming projects? Is there anything else you are keen to start working on this year?
Yes! This collection is a prelude to the brand, which is my main focus right now. We plan to launch this coming April 2022, and I am so excited.