Nature, in all her majestical glory, is what inspires Chinese fashion designer Ban Xiao Xue the most.
“I live in a country surrounded by rivers and mountains, so I have always been quite sensitive to nature’s beauty such as flowers, trees and mountains,” explains Ban. “If you look closely into things that are commonly regarded as ugly, you can also find beauty. If you can use these methods when designing, your design will be unique.”
It was his innovative and unique design which won over the esteemed jury during the 2012/13 International Woolmark Prize (IWP) Asia regional final.
“There were two candidates who were very close, but in the end Ban Xiau Xue won because of his innovative treatment of wool,” explained Vogue Editor-in –Chief and IWP judge Angelica Cheung, who sat on the panel alongside supermodel Du Juan, fashion designer Uma Wang, artist Xiang Jing and JOYCE representative Ning Lau.
“These days not many designers take time to do this,” Ms Cheung said. “A lot of people just focus on design not knowing much about the raw material and the possibilities and potential of the fibre.”
Ban has a deep connection to the Merino wool fibre and experimented in post-treatment of his wool fabrics, before creating his innovative work of ‘Growth’. He produced a whole piece of special fabric, mixed with Merino wool and a little amount of silk, and allowed it to drape on the human form with limited cutting, creating a natural and poetic feel.
“Materials and structure are very important factors in my design. As important as factors like colour, technique and style,” says Ban.
“When I am designing I very rarely choose ready-made fabrics, only if it is a perfect match for my inspiration. Or I will create fabrics myself because I know what fabrics match my design. A material is like a person, for it has multifaceted characters.
“There’s no way to capture the true beauty of nature, but I have the urge to try sharing it with others. I don’t see myself as a designer, more of a transmitter.”