When’s the last time you let vulnerability sink into your bones? BFA fashion designer Shuqing Wang’s definitive senior thesis collection, like most art forms, is a variation of catharsis. It is armor, and aims to give you back the strength you need to survive.
It all started with a protective under-layer, and the idea that knitted body suits, dresses, and tops provide a second skin. When the outer layer is added, voluminous shapes bend and fold over the wearer’s body, giving an illusion of lofty stature. For Wang, this exists as a mix of soft and hard, where bulbous protrusions connect to sharp, tailored edges, and silhouettes are derived from the hand gestures and positioning of arms she observed while riding the subway.
Wang adds 3D printed details, made to resemble metal subway handles, to the seams of sleeves, dresses, and necklines. They offer another component of strength to the outer shell, almost weapon-like in their introduction. It is in these details that Wang’s clothes play the offensive as much as the defensive. They are a welcome addition to outer layers made up of luxurious textures like shearling and leather.
Wang selected a color palette based on an idea of inclusivity, and that it could be anyone going through these motions. The tones mimic those of skin, ranging from beige, pink, and sandy tan, to deep brown and black. They are colors drawn from riders on the subway, and people of the world on their own paths.
This idea of putting on your tough face is referenced throughout the collection. In the same way we shield our true selves in public, her clothes provide an added layer of protection.
The confidence you need to face your day starts with the clothes you put on your back. The world can be a dangerous place, but in hers, Wang wants you to feel safe. It is hard to not feel a little intimidated when you look at the pieces. In this sense, she has done what she has set out to do; make women feel powerful from the inside out.