DESIGNER TALK: CHI SHERI

TAIWANESE DESIGNER SHERI SHIH HUI CHANG of CHI SHERI CREATES CLOTHING THAT LOOKS LIKE WEARABLE ART. FUTURISTIC AND FASHION-FORWARD, IT'S CLEAR THAT CHI SHERI DOES NOT SHY AWAY FROM USING CLOTHING TO MAKE A BOLD STATEMENT. HERE THE DESIGNER DISCUSSES THE INFLUENCE OF ASIAN STYLES, GRAD SCHOOL, AND THE CONNECTION BETWEEN PHILOSOPHY AND FASHION.

How did you become involved in fashion design? Before I enrolled in a graduate program for fashion design, I was very into contemporary theory, philosophy, and gender theory. I would say my interest in fashion design grew completely from these academic points of view, continued by the philosophy of history and also culture studies. After completing my undergraduate degree, I participated in a sewing studio and took classes at a fashion school in order to cultivate my skills and build up a portfolio for applying to grad programs. I found this to be a more unique way of getting myself involved in fashion design. Once enrolled, I found my mind carried away by architecture, interior design, and fabrication. So I tried to utilize the tools of digital fabrication in fashion design, which still continues to be the main interest of my work.

What materials do you most like to work with? In early phases of my work, I emphasized more on color and mixing patterns together. Therefore, I loved to work with novelty fabrics and also piecing together juxtaposed prints. These were more likely to be printed with either cotton, linen, synthetics, or wool. Later, I moved on to experimenting with form and structure in digital fabrication, so I tended to choose the materials that could pair well with how fabrication functioned, like fabrics which could work well with laser cutting. For example, I can control the power of the laser, so silk or synthetic organza gets a clean cut without having burn marks during the process. I also loved to work with structural fabrics, such as neoprene and felt. Other materials I used were also based on digital fabrication, such as, plastics in 3D printing, as well as silicon in molding. I used metallic rings and zip-tides for my experimenting materials as well! 

How does your geographical location influence your aesthetic? I was born and lived in Taiwan for 25 years before I went to the United States for grad school. Therefore, certain Asian styles were always rooted in my mind. Anime/manga from japan influenced me most during my younger years, especially fantasy, adventure, steampunk, cyberpunk… I found these genres very romantic and closely attached to my soul. Local Taiwanese culture, people, and folk, also inspired me. Now that I’ve been living in Philadelphia for a few years, I am adopting the culture by experiencing past (antique/history) and future (young generation/events), as well as also utilizing the resources I am fortunate to have here. I enjoy combining my past to the current trend, and shaping the romantic ideas of my mind into the techniques which I have learned here. My mixture of styles have been born from this.

What's been your greatest professional achievement to date? The time I survived my grad thesis and prepared my collection for the runway show. I was so honored to received the CFDA+ outstanding deign graduates in the past year! Very rewarding and encouraging me to move to the next step!

What's one thing people would never guess about you? My previous study was philosophy. I guess it always was unexpected!