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A Conversation with Designer Tianqi Chen on Her Latest Fashion Line

Tianqi Chen, renowned for her innovative use of macramé and drawstring methods in fashion design, has recently unveiled her latest collection titled The Woman Warrior. This collection highlights the inner strength of women as they overcome emotional challenges. The journey to creating The Woman Warrior was a challenging yet deeply rewarding experience for Tianqi, who infused the pieces with the essence of collective womanly experiences.

Tianqi, the garments from The Woman Warrior are striking. Could you share the inspiration behind this collection?

Certainly! The inspiration came from the common insecurities about body image that many individuals face. The collection aims to promote self-confidence among women who are healing, reinforcing their strength and challenging societal standards of beauty and gender roles. Women possess immense strength to combat their internal battles.

What drew you to incorporate macramé and drawstring elements into these designs?

The technique of macramé is like engaging in a dialogue with the viewer. Combining the contrasting textures of sturdy and delicate materials via drawstrings perfectly encapsulates the duality of vulnerability and fortitude. The complex patterns of knots and weaves create shapes representing resilience and defiance, juxtaposed with women’s perceived delicacy.

Was macramé a technique you’ve worked with in previous designs?

Actually, no. The pandemic compelled me to embrace handcrafting as a means of creation due to the constraints of working without a traditional studio. Beginning as a practical workaround due to the lack of a sewing machine, knotting by hand allowed me to explore a novel way of expression that intertwines personal narratives and shared histories.

How would you describe your approach to fashion design?

I prioritize the versatility of drawstrings to offer a transformative experience in my garments. This not only changes the fit but also the look, making them adaptable for people of various ages, sizes, and genders.

Can you recall any distinct experiences while working on The Woman Warrior?

Definitely! It may come as a surprise, but all the cords used in this collection were upcycled from surplus stock donations, as it was quite challenging to source production and fitting models during the pandemic. I applied natural dyes for color adjustments and chose to knot the materials directly onto models to minimize waste. The cords can be disassembled and reworked into new garments, reflecting sustainability in design.

Prior to diving into fashion design, you were once an editor. What prompted the shift in your career?

Fashion design has always been my true calling. During my college days, I navigated cultural differences and personal identity. My educational experience at Parsons School of Design, particularly in macramé and crochet, yielded opportunities for internships and further engagements in the fashion industry. Looking back, embracing my passion for fashion was certainly the right move.

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