Susan Fang Shanghai Fall 2022 Collection

With her “fairy” aesthetic, Susan Fang takes fashion into new and ethereal dimensions. In doing so, she became part of a fraternity of designers (which includes Molly Goddard, Simone Rocha and Cecilie Bahnsen), who create decidedly feminine looks for the female eye. (At the other end of the spectrum is the growing group of women designing “sexy” clothing for women.) Fang implicitly attributes her affinity for frills and flourishes in fourth-wave feminism. “I felt like maybe we don’t need to use our exterior anymore to prove that we’re equal,” she said on a Zoom from Shanghai, “or it’s no longer necessary let it be something on the surface, and it seems safe enough to do what we love, like wearing soft clothes wouldn’t mean we’re soft on the inside.

The designer has certainly proven herself with her spring collection. By applying her light touch to a wider repertoire of materials, she underscored the strength of her vision. Air is the element that Fang has harnessed, primarily through her airy flower technique (the designer cuts strips of fabric onto which she layers, folds and sews more flower fabric, creating ribbons of dimensional flowers that can be tied together). She also uses transparency, laser cutting and spray paint to capture the transience of flowers, the movement of insects and jellyfish, and even water bubbles (see her 3D printed bags).

For fall, Fang flipped some of her flower strips to flutter like butterflies. She created a marbled print (think: paint floating on water) because “we wanted the prints to be less controlled”, and used elastic smocking a lot because “we still want the garment to be very loose”. Fang uses color and texture like a painter would, and this season’s combinations of airy smocks and florals and lightweight smocks and mesh won, while also providing a viable alternative to the ever-popular mesh look. The key look is the combination of a smocked floral dress with a quilted petticoat. Touches of faux fur also add warmth to the collection.

Inspired by her early heartbreak, creating Fang’s spring collection was, as she put it, “a self-healing process.” After going through this transitional state, Autumn finds the designer stable on her feet and quarantined at home. In turn, it is a collection to cling to; it’s more present in a way, closer to the skin, and maybe other modes of existence and connection. During its making, the designer woke up from a vivid dream thinking, “Maybe in the future our souls can be freer, and then we can transform into the physical form of insects, or jellyfish, or just the wind itself, and then, through those experiences, we’ll be more understanding, or we’ll have more empathy, and then we’ll just develop more love for each other. Given the current news cycle, Eden’s fantasy seems increasingly distant, but Fang’s work keeps the dream alive.

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