words Catherine Harris
It’s not often a designer comes along who so easily combines innovative modern design, with the traditional techniques and craftsmanship of their heritage.
Renli Su’s unique selling point is not only her unorthodox Eastern inspiration, but also her use of organic fabrics, most notably Chinese ramie which has been chosen by the Fujian and Tibetan designer as the basis of her most recent collection which almost defies time.
The mid-late 19th Century callings of ‘Little Women’, her SS15 and AW15 collections explore the idea of ‘Time and Memory’; the passing of it and the memories that clothing can preserve as it elapses. It is a wistful range of pieces that could have been pulled straight out of Little House on the Prairie, with a simplicity, and reminiscence that could only be rooted in oriental origin.
Spring Summer 2015 Collection
Renli Su has managed to establish a time-lapse of old and new, and in the process has created a collection that remains directional – in a direction towards the elegance and wearability that a woman searches for, whilst continuing to place emphasis on the traditional trades of the East, using Chinese linen, Indian hand dyed block printed cotton, and Irish cotton and linen blend.
Made in workshops across the world, her concept has created a collection so carefully put together, comprising these key elements which have been precisely mastered. The Chinese designer was given the prestigious title of Vogue’s ‘One to Watch’ for Spring/Summer 2014, and with her unshakeable vision already setting tongues wagging, the future is looking bright for Renli Su, who is reeling us in to the beauty of her world.
Here’s what Renli had to say to us about the collection.
FLUX: It is a refreshing, almost game-changing concept using the organic fabrics you do, in such a contemporary way, what is it about organic fabrics which draws you to them?
RENLI SU: I want to take fashion back to celebrating craftsmanship, I feel that organic fabrics and handmade techniques give a certain rawness that could never be replicated by a machine, and that’s important to me. The Renli Su collections are created using only the highest quality fabrics and those that have a story behind them, and come from different corners of the world. Chinese Summer Fabric; Indian Hand Woven Cotton; Indian Block Print Organic Cotton and Irish Innovative Cotton Linen all featured in my SS15 collection, and for AW15 I also added Chinese Silk and Tibetan Yak Wool, so my pieces are both intricate yet wearable and practical and the best part is that the designs age beautifully, unlike other clothes.
FLUX: Was it a long and drawn out process finding the perfect materials for your new collection? And was this the aspect of your designs that you were most keen to perfect?
RENLI SU: I travel all over the world sourcing materials, which means I am always discovering new traditions and techniques which of course takes some time. But it’s fascinating, and I can combine these methods I find in different corners of the world to deliver an end product that is unique and has a history. The materials are definitely central to my collections, the feel of the fabrics and the way they are cut, but more than that, they each have a story behind them. For AW15, I used Chinese Silk which symbolizes oriental culture and is celebrated across the world for its quality and rich heritage, with a history spanning thousands of years.
Autumn Winter 2015 Collection
FLUX: Have you always known that since you started your career, it was the traditional methods of clothe-making that you wished to explore?
RENLI SU: My background was in art, which was where I became passionate about fabrics and traditional methods have always captured my interest. I like the simplicity of it, and I want to continue to use these techniques that have been used for centuries, to flatter and give the consumer a timeless garment that’s quality stands the test of time.
FLUX: Your new collection is beautiful, how would you describe the collection and the concept behind it?
RENLI SU: AW15 is an extension of Little Women SS15. The focus is still on building a strong, yet feminine collection that reflects independent women. Our label explores the concept ‘Time and Memory’, with each season building on this theme from the previous one, each aiming to convey the idea that garments not only retain the physical traces of their past, but also form an intrinsic bond with their wearer.
FLUX: Do you have any figures in your life who have provided you with fashion inspiration over the years? Where would you generally look for inspiration, and does it change significantly from season to season?
RENLI SU: My inspirations come from everyday life, talking to people to see what they like and what they need, as well as visiting antique fairs and exhibitions. I am finding new inspirations with each collection through my travels, for example, meeting traditional weavers in China and Yak Wool handicraftsmen in Tibet. I have been inspired by some of tutors while studying and also admire the work of Mira Schendel, the textures and spatial arrangements of her work, and I think she has a strong sensibility as a female artist.
@RENLISU / #RenliSuAW15 / www.renlisu.com