Designer Cecilia Kang. Image supplied.
Designer Cecilia Kang debuted her eponymous couture label at New Zealand Fashion Week 2018, showcasing the self-taught designer’s flair for glamourous looks. Each distinctive piece from Cecilia’s collections is hand-made by the designer herself, who does everything from pattern-making to sewing, and adding the finishing touches. Cecilia’s designs are intricate, experimental and often inspired by the beauty and uniqueness of nature. Her first solo show at New Zealand Fashion Week 2019 saw Cecilia bring a further dose of opulence to the runway with her Galaxy Extravaganza show.
We caught up with Cecilia to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
My latest collection is called “Ani-Nature”. “Ani” is a short abbreviation of animals and “nature” simply translates as the phenomena of the physical world collectively featuring products of the mother earth. But, when we say it, it is pronounced as “ANY NATURE”. This collection will showcase several different kinds of animal prints such as leopard, cat and zebra, and how they will blend in together with the form of anything in nature. For example: from flowers, floral patterns, gas-like prints and many embellishments brings colour and diversity. Lots of designers love animal prints and they have maintained popularity throughout 2020 to 2021. Going for that extra mile to make an effort within consciousness as consciousness itself is showing the inner-self of which I am the designer. I instantly thought it would be a very interesting theme for my new collection. I am all about experimenting with different elements in fashion designing and setting my own trend in my own world of fashion.
What made you become a designer?
While I was going through the phase to discover myself as a transsexual woman, I got interested in knowing about fashion, styling and wanted to become a fashion designer around 2007. Moreover, because of loneliness I thought fashion could be my best friend in life. Seeing my fellow LGBTQIA friends on the weekends as they uniquely dress themselves that’s where I wanted to create fabulous garments. I didn’t have a platform so I started dressing beauty contestants in the New Zealand beauty pageant industry and after working with many contestants, New Zealand Fashion Week came knocking on my door in 2018. That’s where my fashion career officially started. I started researching about different concepts, silhouettes, figures and looks for all sizes of women and this is where all my self-study fashion career began. This included pattern making, cutting, drawing, sewing and hand stitching. After seeing the masterpiece or finished garment, that’s where I found my joy and happiness. While self-studying, I used abundant resources on the internet, pattern papers, fashion books and mannequins to gain more understanding and depth in fashion designing. Also, lots of comparison of everyday clothes over the years is where I was able to show the creativity needed to go to, and make new age garments.
Looks from Cecilia Kang’s Ani-Nature collection.
What inspires you?
I get inspiration from everyday life, from red carpet photos that I see online, glamour-puss and inspiring art-pieces from New Zealand nature. My inspiration evolves from imaginations, creating everything from my head and then experimenting through utilizing all sorts of fabrics to create art-like silhouette pieces. When I get really inspired I feel like my five senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste) become like super senses in which my everyday normal abilities are absorbed into a greater field of experience. When designing and creating in which I am the thinker, time doesn’t exist. When I finally look up from what I am doing, hours may have gone by. This type of meditation is a science that I have learnt myself through clothes and designing.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
My personal style is always dramatic, edgy and stand out from the crowd. I believe fashion is all about having fun, enjoying and exaggerating a little to come up with a new look that no one has ever done before. I like to use a variety of items like hats, bags, sunglasses and any props that go well along with my designs. Furthermore, accessories such as jewellery pieces, statement earrings and necklaces influence the finishing touches of the designed pieces at the end which brings in a whole new level of art-form.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
My all-time favourite purchase would be fabrics. As a fashion designer, you need fabrics to make your samples and new collections so I am all about buying different types of fabrics to create art pieces. This is also a colour therapy healing alternative. I just fall in love with the unique fabrics I see around myself within a store.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
I guess everyone is different in what they want. But, I suggest people should invest in a design of clothing that makes a statement and well-made items are worth the effort. For instance: sweater, jacket, handbags, earrings, dresses and jeans, you name it. But, at the end of the day, it must make you feel good about what you purchase because belief in fashion is self-satisfaction. You want to feel uplifted and feel good about what you wear, right?
Looks from Cecilia Kang’s Ani-Nature collection.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
I always like to style everything over the top and everything needs to be perfect. I always remind myself each time
“You always have to be on point”. That is one rule I try to obey most of the time.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I think there are quite a few highlights in my career so far. My biggest highlight in life is taking part in New Zealand Fashion Week both in 2018 and 2019, being appointed as a creative director for New Zealand’s leading skin care brand Nellie Tier. I cannot describe how blessed I am for these amazing opportunities. For me it is a great highlight celebrating life of who I am as a person and as a transsexual advocate. I would like to say a big massive thank you to FashioNZ team for writing great fashion articles and highlights throughout the years.
What can’t you live without?
My art pieces, beautiful friends, supporters and family.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
Harem pants of any sorts and anything like a crop top.
Images by Kara Woskett Portraits.