Spotlight is a regular series where we feature a prominent person in the style scene. This month we speak with Wanbing Huang, founder and designer of AT-ONE-MENT.
Since rolling out her eponymous label in 2016, Wanbing Huang has caught the eye of the fashion industry in China and beyond, and her work has been featured in some of the most prominent fashion magazines and websites around the world. Just before her return to Shanghai Fashion Week to showcase her SS2019 collection, we chatted with the Guangzhou-born, London-based designer about her design inspirations, collaborating with Nike on a global campaign and the decision to rename her brand.
You grew up in Guangzhou, studied in Tokyo, and are now based in London. In what ways have these cities influenced your designs?
Guangzhou is my hometown and ‘spiritual comfort zone,’ I love the cosy environment, delicious food and all my friends. In Tokyo, besides world-class pattern cutting skills, I learned a lot about the rigorous and professional attitude and traditional Japanese artisan spirit. London is a melting pot of different cultures and a world-class art capital. I really enjoy immersing myself in this environment as it keeps me calm and creative.
AT-ONE-MENT SS19 catwalk show in Shanghai. Image via Shanghai Fashion Week.
How would you describe someone who wears your clothes?
I want to create clothes for those sophisticated yet emotional women. They are strong and fragile, and are seeking artistic design that allows them to express themselves. My clothes capture their subtle but dynamic consciousness and highlights their beauty by creating a feminine image with elegance and spiritual connotation to help them to find the true self. My clothes can be a form of protection in a feminine way, but not an armor.
Can you tell us about the new SS19 collection?
The theme of my SS19 collection is called ‘La Lumiere Interieure,’ which is inspired by the French avant-garde movie La Cicatrice Interieure. I want to use clothes to show the experience of a woman defeating her inner loneliness and pain through self-resistance to find the light of their soul and the meaning of life. The silhouettes are more fluid and romantic, and all the sharp edges are hidden to express a sense of elegance. The use of my signature fabric with peony-patterned jacquard conveys a romantic charm, and through the overlapping of lace and organza, I want to create some subtle yet polarizing hues. The collection also features exquisite craftsmanship of embroidery in the form of three-dimensional floral decorations.
"My clothes can be a form of protection in a feminine way, but not an armor."
You recently renamed your label as AT-ONE-MENT. Why did you make this decision? How will your design under this new label be different from before?
AT-ONE-MENT is also the name of my graduation collection at Central Saint Martins, and I think it is a good name for my new chapter – to scale up and share my vision and creation with more women. I still follow my heart when I design, so the artistic and experimental parts are still in the new label. I’m starting to think about sophisticated female as a wider group, and to further consider their emotional and physical needs. I want to build a wardrobe for them, which allows me to create more wearable pieces and develop a more complete collection.
You worked with Nike in 2017 in their Vision-airs campaign. How did the collaboration come about, and what was the experience like for you?
Nike spotted my work at my Labelhood presentation. Though Stavros Karelis (founder of Machine-A), they invited me to participate in this global campaign. I have to say it was really a wonderful collaboration. The Nike team was very respectful of my approach and provided some very useful feedback. I’ve learned a lot from them about how a big company operates and the importance of professionalism.
For more Spotlight posts, click here. Find out more about Wanbing Huang here. Cover image courtesy of the designer.