Orange by Angela
by Serena Kay Mason
Photography by Renat Touichev - www.renat.ca
Styling - Deanna Palkowski
Makeup/hair - NEGAR - They Rep - http://www.THEYrep.com
- Amy - Liz Bell Agency - www.lizbellagency.com
- Tiera - Next Models - www.nextmodels.ca
Angela Chen's cozy studio space exudes calm, but just below the surface a creative energy constantly bubbles . On the walls hang giant canvases painted by Chen's boyfriend (an artist and graphic designer). Along one wall is a spartan gallery-style rack adorned with pieces from Orange's S/S 2010 collection and mannequins lounge in various states of dress as if taking it all in. In this atmosphere, the clean-lined black and white skirts, dresses and blouses take on the look of art pieces themselves. Chen explains that the studio has a constant influx of people moving in and out - students who attend art classes, models doing fittings and colleagues who drop by to help Chen with marathon cutting sessions.
Born in Taiwan, Chen moved to Vancouver at age seven and grew up in the city. In 2003, her devotion to fashion led her away from Vancouver for six years to the prestigious Parsons New School for Design in New York. After graduation she worked full-time as a sweater designer, while at the same time designing and developing her own label - Orange NYC. The strain of working full-time while being a designer and entrepreneur proved too difficult. Chen made the decision to move back to Vancouver and changed the name to Orange by Angela Chen. "I've always loved Vancouver and told myself I'd come back someday when I retire. I moved back to be closer to family and friends, but the Vancouver fashion scene has also been really welcoming. At first, I called a lot of stores on Main Street and the first thing they asked was, 'Are you a local designer?' I just think that's so great." She plans to honour the spirit of keeping things local by transitioning to Vancouver-based manufacturing over the next few years.
Orange grew out of her graduating thesis project at Parsons. The first collection consisted of knitwear pieces handmade by Chen herself and was picked up by the enterprising owner of a chic New York boutique called Debut. The evening her first collection launched she remembers, "I was seriously laughing the whole night. Just seeing my name there with my clothes hanging underneath, and in such a cool setting… I was so happy." Currently Chen is working on the F/W 2010 collection. When asked about her inspiration, she frowns a little. "Honestly, I had a hard time at first with this collection. It didn't come easily. I drove around the city, looking in coffee shops and different places, trying to get inspiration from the people in Vancouver. One day it hit me and then it started just flowing." Despite the slow start, she considers this collection to be some of her best work and jumps up to grab her digital camera. On it are photos from an initial fitting with a model. Despite the rough muslin and the fact that the pieces are technically rough drafts, they are spectacular. Chen's animated face and bright smile attest to her love for this latest installment of her work and even the model is grinning to be wearing such gorgeous garments.
The move back to Vancouver has been the right decision for Chen. Like a welcome home present, the city has offered her support and inspiration and she in turn is bringing new looks, artistic design and cool sophistication to her hometown's ever-growing fashion scene.
For more information on Orange by Angela Chen please check out the website at www.orangenyc.com.