Runway Radar: Iris Chau's fjord boy celebrates art of quilting

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      By Patty Victorino

      fjord boy combines folk textile history and craft with contemporary menswear to create colourfully lush, one-of-a-kind pieces for the artistically experienced collector. 

      Through this collection, the art of quilting is remembered and celebrated through use of mixing reclaimed fabrics in unconventional fabric-construction techniques.

      fjord boy will be unveiled at 2018 The Show presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc., on April 19 and 20 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) new purpose-built Wilson School of Design building. The beautiful and innovative $36-million building houses a range of design programs including the fashion-design-and-technology program. Thirty-one other lines by KPU fashion design and technology students will also be showcased.

      For event details, visit or follow @wilsondesignkpu on Instagram.

      Patty Victorino: Who or what was the inspiration behind your line?

      Iris Chau: The inspiration came from an exhibition I saw in the summer of 2017. It was at the de Young Museum in San Francisco and it featured quilts from Gee’s Bend, a small rural community In Alabama more commonly referred to as Boykin. I was fascinated by the techniques the people there used to make the quilts—they were truly one of a kind.

      When it came to thinking about my collection, I really wanted to honour the traditional ways of treating cloth. This includes quilting, patchwork, and fabric mending. I also wanted to help alleviate the issue of textile waste that is so prominent in our industry. This led me to use only upcycled or reclaimed textiles in all of my work, which blends well with the whole idea of using older techniques to create a time-worn aesthetic.


      PV: Walk me through your creative process.

      IC: It always starts with a creative interaction with a person, work of art, or place. That interaction can drive me to go in all sorts of directions. From there, I will dive into the why. Why do I want to create? What meaning might my creativity produce in the world?

      If I could imagine my process, it would look like a messy ball of yarn being slowly unraveled until a clear thread—a thought—emerges. Most importantly, my creative process never happens alone. From start to finish, I always have peers and outside forces refining my process, thoughts, and ideas.

      PV: What have you learned at KPU?

      IC: So many things. I have learned a myriad of technical skills, but I think what will really stay with me for a lifetime is the value and preciousness of collaboration in design. I think that the fashion industry is going to require more and more people not just from fashion, but other design sectors, to work together to solve complex problems.

      For me, collaboration is being open-minded, communicative, and empathetic. It requires one to be humble enough to learn as somebody else’s student, and have the confidence to be that person’s teacher as well.

      PV: What are your plans after graduation?

      IC: Take my dad to Beijing! It’s my dad’s lifelong dream to walk along the Great Wall of China. He’s never gotten to do so because he was always so busy raising me and my two siblings. My dad has been really supportive of me over the last four years, so having a trip with him this summer to celebrate my graduation and help him fulfill his dreams are my most important plans.

      PV: What aspect of design are you most passionate about?

      IC: Design as an act of service. What really keeps me going is the notion that my creative process and the final product are going to help somebody. Thinking of fashion design as an act of service gives it more meaning in an increasingly consumerist and superficial industry. I think design is now presenting us with more and more opportunities to increase the well-being of people and our society, and tackle issues that are environmental, ethical, and social.

      Patty Victorino is a final-year fashion design and technology student at KPU’s Wilson School of Design.

      Places to go nearby

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