Illustrations by ALEX YU
Photography by EVAAN KHERAJ
Alex Yu knows the importance of practical, ready to wear clothing. "If food is not edible, it's not food. Same goes for fashion, if you can't wear it, it's not fashion." The Taiwanese born, Canadian raised designer is a recent graduate of Blanche MacDonald's fashion design program and the face behind Denier & Manera designs - a women's wear line focusing on every day pieces with a mix.
This is quite a change from Yu's original pursuit of a computer science degree from Simon Fraser University. Feeling unsatisfied sitting behind a computer all day, he took the opportunity to turn school work into something more creative and visual: magazines, cd covers, any project that allowed the use of graphic design skills was favored. Knowing he had the interest and eye for fashion design, it was only the lack of sewing skills that was holding him back. In preparation of making the educational leap from programmer to designer, sewing classes were juggled with regular university studies.
Yu's fashion dreams are now well on track with a recent graduation and award for Best Design Achievement from Blanche Macdonald plus the completion of 20 looks for his portfolio collection. Although keeping a busy schedule with sketching, sewing, working with the Club Monaco visual team and practicing photography, time is still found to study architecture for inspiration. The lines and shapes in buildings draw various moods and inspire him to see design in different ways.
The goal in Yu's grad project was to create practical, wearable pieces that would look good on all shapes and ages. The collection of blouses, skirts, dresses and pants are inspired by the architecture of Zaha Hadid and the use of polka dots and circular shapes play into the feeling of extra terrestrial life form. Sheer overlays, asymmetrical lines, cutouts and small details like Yu's signature leaf (a square of fabric folded twice to create texture) are common threads for Spring / Summer 2012. The collection is fun and colourful with a focus on mix and match. Natural, matte fabrics like silk, chiffon, denim and cotton were used in a palette of navy blue with pop up red and orange.
For Yu, cohesiveness is the key to a successful collection. When creating the looks he envisions the fashion show. How will the pieces flow together? What piece will come next in order? From January to July 2011, the collection was brought to life. He cast all the models and designed all the accessories from the shoes (made in a factory in Taiwan) to the necklaces, all to ensure that the styling tied together.
While anxiously awaiting acceptance into a Masters design program at New York's Parson's School of Design, Fashion Institute of Technology or London's Central Saint Martins, Yu is taking two months off to travel and check out the Tokyo fashion scene. Then the focus will be on a resort collection will featuring menswear inspired tailoring and incorporating the use of triangle patterns. "I'd also like to open a boutique that would be more of a lifestyle store," says Yu, "not only would it sell my own designs but also music and books that suit my brand." Sounds like a well designed future.
You can see more of Alex's work at www.deniermanera.com