Ahead of tonight’s LCF MA17 MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear catwalk show at 7pm (watch it live streamed here), we caught up with the participating graduates to discuss their final collections and why they chose to study at London College of Fashion. Chen Zhi has created a colourful knitwear collection that is influenced by her design and engineering background.

Chen Zhi – MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear, 2017; Photography by Felix Cooper, styling by Anders Sølvsten Thomsen, hair Roxy Attard, make-up artist Celia Burton; model Yasmina Atta.

Chen Zhi – MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear, 2017; Photography by Felix Cooper, styling by Anders Sølvsten Thomsen, hair Roxy Attard, make-up artist Celia Burton; model Yasmina Atta.

Tell us about your collection?

While Playground, an all-knitwear collection, conveys playfulness and lightness, it is underpinned by highly intricate and sophisticated structures. The elaborate patterns, rich colours and distinct textures are all knitted into one piece of seamless fabric.

Where did you study prior to your MA at LCF?

Engineering at Xiamen University, Fashion Design at Donghua University, BA Fashion Design at LCF as well as Fashion Design at Parsons, The New School.

Reflecting back on your MA, what would be your top three bits of advice to anyone wishing to study?

  • Keep calm and sleep well. There are always hundreds of problems, so don’t be anxious.
  • Defend your designs as no one knows your design better than you.
  • Be organised! Working efficiently is much more important than spending all your time in the studio.

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Why did you choose MA Womenswear at LCF?

I am always trying to balance creativity, practicality and commerciality in my designs and LCF promotes the same philosophy. I think LCF’s MA course is very honest and straightforward, unlike some programmes that try to make fashion design too conceptual, ideological and unfathomable – producing wearable art instead of actual clothing. However, LCF’s MA course pushes students to consider mature and sophisticated creativity – to produce clothes that take wearers to another place mentally while allowing them to feel comfortable in the physical reality that they have to deal with every day.

What have you found the most enjoyable and interesting part of your course? And what have you found the most challenging?

I enjoyed discovering my own design language. I think for the first project, my design was limited to my comfort zone that I got used to from my previous design degree in China. However, encouraged by my amazing tutor, I stepped out of the box and eventually developed my unique language as a designer.

The most challenging part was finishing an all-knitwear collection without any previous formal knitwear knowledge. For my collection, I used the STOLL machine to create unique knit fabrics. I created a knitwear collection that doesn’t look like knitwear. So production and finishing was a challenge since I had to develop everything myself. The project required strong organisational skills due to coordinating different production elements in the UK, Germany, and China but I pride myself on being able to keep up with the challenging schedule.

What was your favourite thing about studying in London?

Design and art is a part of the everyday life.

Describe your style in five words…

Artisanal, pragmatic, intricate, ingenuous and angular.

What are your future plans and how do you think the course will help you realise these plans?

I am planning to study STOLL programming for knitwear in Germany. As a fashion designer and former engineering student, I found my passion in combining technology and art. With the state-of-art technology, I can offer fresh designs to the world. Therefore, I believe it is necessary to learn how to programme because I want to have a comprehensive understanding of the technique to underpin my design.

The course helped me discover my design language. As an experimenter of textile and draping and as an Asian designer with the imprint of oriental taste, I have a complex character. Although it is exciting to have numerous new ideas, I occasionally make design too complicated. The training at LCF inspired me to integrate intricacy and simplicity. I now have a much better understanding of the importance of balance in design. Through my MA study, I learned to handle this delicate balance that is crucial in the fashion industry.