The Urban Nomad
Female Protagonists: Cecilia Chang
So as you know I am a fan of emerging designers. During fashion week I wander the market shows and find myself meeting and talking to exceptionally thoughtful and talented young designers. These are women who have something important to say and who speak the language of garments. Sometimes they go further than that and also speak the language of what is in my soul and the very thing that is the essence of my identity. The muse of the urban nomad is what inspires Cecilia Chang, her brand Ceci and me. I am honored to introduce you to her and her clothing. She was gracious enough to answer some questions for me, the answers I think you will find stimulating and exciting. She gave me her Zephaniah Shirt Dress which I am wearing in my photo this week and it perfectly expresses my mood as I wander my city.
1. One of the reasons I find you so interesting as a designer is that I completely identify with Ceci "the romantic urban nomad who wonders the city". How did you come to create this muse?
Urban city life is the way that I grew up and currently live in. When I began the journey of Ceci, I wanted to create a muse that I can really reflect myself in. My mind is a wandering place in itself; and for me that is important next to live with yourself at ease. The muse is a mirrored view on how I see myself in the city, a free spirit in urban environments and for the urban nomad it is never enough to stay at one place. The urge to wander, is really the drive of my muse.
2. How do you reflect the idea of an urban nomad in the design and constructions of your clothes?
The idea of the urban nomad wandering the city, is a person who is in peace with herself. She is a calm yet exciting person and this is also the way I want the garments to be constructed. For me, our soul and attitude towards life give the clothing the finish. Your attire should fit your soul and it should flatter your appearance. I always imagine my muse to live comfortably and with no restrictions. That is the reason why I want the designs to be comfortable and at ease. The constructions of the attire, for me, need to be calm, loose fitted and yet playful. I want women to not take a look on how others dress. It is their character that counts and in the end every woman should be her own muse. Thus, with my designs I want to give them the space they need to experience that.
2.1. In what ways does the city inspire you?
Urban life is full of energy. You can experience the freedom everywhere you go. The many opportunities may also give you pressure but that is why the city is so inspiring. Especially, my time in New York really shaped me. The energy and drive the people have every day can be breath-taking when you take a closer look. New York and the people around it, have so much confidence. It seems like everyone is confident to themselves and they know who they are. That is also what I have learnt during my time in New York. Even though, sometimes this confidence is not real, it is still inspiring to see how people act so differently than their true selves.
3. Can you tell us something about your journey to New York, Parsons School of Design and becoming a fashion designer?
When I was in college, I always wanted to have my own little studio where I could sell clothing that I loved in Taiwan. Back then, the choices for Taiwanese girls were limited and there was not much of an own sense of style in Taipei.
When I finished my fashion design studies in Taiwan, I worked for the design department in a company in Taipei, but I felt so restricted to give away my passion and design skills for other people with other motivations and other feeling of style. So, I quit and I went to Parsons and I finally find myself and my passion again. Studying with many diverse people from all over the world, I gained so much more knowledge and new inspirations. It was a very key experience in my life. The experiences in New York, made me realise that many people live without thinking about others. That is why I wanted to create a brand that deep in its roots combines the value of strong femininity, self expression and care for others.
4. In your biography it is stated that you are an environmentalist. Can you share with us how that sensibility influences the construction and production of your garments?
Being an environmentalist, I can tell you that it is very hard to find your place in the fashion industry. When it comes to my constructions of garments, I always try to reduce the waste as much as possible of fabric use. I do not want to harm any animals, hence I only use faux fur and leather. During the years, I got more and more sensible to only use either 100 % fabric qualities or blends that are easily to recycle. Also from the garments constructions, I try to not force the women into the clothing. I want to give them space to breathe in the environments around them. That is the reason why I always go for a rather loose fitted style. You will never find me stating that Ceci is a sustainable brand. The way that many fashion companies use sustainability in order to create higher turnovers without even being 100 % sustainable, just leaves me sad. No company in the fashion industry is right now able to be sustainable in all its processes, so why claiming it when its not true? And why do you even have to claim it? Isn’t it natural to aim for a healthier environment- Right now sustainability is a movement and it is getting miss- used by many companies. I do not see sustainability as a movement. Giving back to the nature and not destroying environments, it is not a movement. It is a way of a certain life style that you decide for yourself. So why do you need to claim this in big characters and use it for marketing, when we all know that it is impossible to be all sustainable? Sustainability and being an environmentalist its not only a phrase to make your brand more interesting, it is a decision for me as a designer extended to my brand.
5. You are also a jewelry designer. Does the design process for jewelry differ from that of clothing? How are they same, how are they different?
I was always interested in jewelry, because it can make you stand out. Ceci does not speak loudly in the garments, but our jewlery can add another spark to it and it also deepens the story behind Ceci. There is no one else, who can understand Ceci more than me and I always wanted to add the choice of more excitement with the jewelry for my wearers. So, I decided to start learning how to make jewelry. I never studied jewelry design, but I learnt all the processes by myself and with the help of my masters who are experienced in jewelry design. I guess that that is also one of my strengths because I can easily adapt to new situations. I always aspire new design processes and there is so much to learn from designing jewelry that you can use for clothing design. In the beginning in both design processes I find similarities. I get inspired, yet in the beginning I do not know where my inspiration will lead to and often I see blurry images of new designs. When I feel that the rightness in the blurry and unknown, I know that I need to go on with designing. For me, it does not work like “I want to create a necklace”, I rather take a look at people and imagine lines and structures that might add value to their personality and outfit. So I go on, do more research and eventually understand the blurry picture.
6. Where do you see yourself in the future as a designer and a brand?
When I look at the future of Ceci, I hope that this brand can give back not only to the environment we all live in, but also help women to realise that they should not imitate others but try to be themselves and be their own muses- realising that what they think is bad about them, it is not.
Me as a designer and also my brand Ceci do not speak loudly. More, we try to get attention of the women that really can see the values behind Ceci and understand the deeper meaning behind it. Women, who can feel the work and inspirations behind the designs of ours.
With Ceci, I hope that women can be more confident with themselves because in the end you do not need to show off and please anyone else than yourself. In the end it is always about your happiness and we hope that we can add to this positive feeling to the wearer. I hope to achieve this with my designs and Ceci in the future.
7. What is one thing you would like to have wearers feel about your clothes?
For our urban nomads around the world, I want to give them a freedom of movement. A freedom to wander around easily but also I want to give them the space to be confident with themselves.
8. Anything you would like to add?
What I realised ever since I launched my own brand is that when you want to start your own brand, you really have to know who you are as a person but also as a designer. No matter what you learn, where you go or who you meet, it all comes back to the person you are. But I always have to bear in my mind that this is an ever evolving process in life. So, with Ceci and each collection we show this journey of a women’s life.
Click here to find out more about the Zephaniah Shirt Dress