On a Flight Path to Fashion Design Heights

Yutong Wu was on his way to a degree in Business Administration at Mount Ida, when a friend asked him to be a model in the annual student-produced fashion show.   His life was about to change – dramatically.

“I had no background in fashion- had never even sewn, but there was something that happened in the excitement of the show and it opened my eyes,” says Wu.  “I have always loved clothes and fabric and was shopping for myself when I was 12 years old.  I enjoy being stylish.”

Wu wasn’t sure what to do, but after speaking with Earl Battle, one of the fashion design instructors at Mount Ida at the time, he was encouraged to take a basic apparel class.  “I had to make a skirt and it took me half the semester, but I learned to sew and really enjoyed it.”  Wu began thinking a lot about menswear and his mind was racing with ideas of what he could create.

“Menswear to me was pretty boring.  I began thinking of different ways to create fashion that I would wear and that men would want to wear, that would let them express themselves in a creative way, while being functional and stylish.”

Wu is intrigued by fabric and construction and influenced by the Chinese tenet of life of Balance. “It’s the yin and the yang. “I create my designs combining those two elements and trying to control that balance. Chinese culture definitely influences how I think.”

The first collection Wu produced was based on vampires.  While that may seem an odd place to start, for Wu if was quite the opposite.  “The vampire is elegant and wealthy.  He lives a long time and are very powerful.”  To Wu the vampire is proud.  He outlives everyone and is in control and able to take flight.

“My design collection is meant to evoke the mood of the vampire.   It starts with a tailored jacket, that the construction becomes half jacket/half cape and ends with a huge cape.

The winner of this year’s Fashion Futures 2017 award for Best Senior Collection, the critics rewarded him for his designs that evoke the mood of Protection.  “The function of clothes is to protect people.  Yet men and women have different ideas on what protection means.”

For the women’s collection, Wu used greys and soft materials to create a feeling safety.  For the menswear, he used a more hard-edged, structured approach – what men would want to protect themselves.   At the end of the runway, the man removed his coat and placed it around the arms of the woman model.  “I like to twist the boundary of men and womenswear.  I used men’s pattern to dress the women, utilizing the oversized patterns to envelop them.”

And Wu feels as if he is just beginning.  He applied for and has been accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Manhattan as a member of their newly offered MFA in Fashion Design program.  He plans to summer in China and then return to live and study in New York for two years.  The program allows him to spend two years developing his collection.

From there, Wu says, the sky is the limit.  He hopes to build his portfolio and experience in New York then return to Beijing.  “There are not a lot of great designers in China, yet there are many with a great sense and desire for style.  I hope to be the most influential designer in my home country.”

See more on his website:  https://www.yutongwu.com/