Since launching her brand in 2010, Yiqing Yin has approached the anatomical quality of clothing with artfulness. Her seasonal ready to wear and couture collections have presented detailed constructions of the feminine wardrobe with emphasis on pleating and embroidery. The young designer, who arrived in France at the age of four, has been a guest member on the fashion calendar of the French Couture Federation since 2012.
You presented a project in 2013 at the Venice Biennale composed of Amaike fabrics, which were once presented at Maison d’Exceptions. How was this collaboration born?
For the Biennale, the Venice Pavilion presents projects linked to local artisanship and traditional know-how. I was invited by the city to visit artisan weavers’ workshops that were still producing on hand looms; things like sword-shaved velour and slow-woven brocades that took around one day per decimeter! I was given some pre-rolled silk thread that I used to do knot-point embroidery on an Amaike fabric support, which has a weight of 5 grams per square meter.
Traditional technique inspires me but I always try to push forward. In Venice, the embroidery was done in our workshops and we built a special embroidery frame that was three meters long; the work took two weeks to complete. We embroider using the knot-point technique, but instead of cutting the threads we leave them long and coil them on spools, giving the effect of three-dimensional embroidery. It’s interesting to note the contrast between the embroidery’s weight, which weighs down the silhouette, and the lightness of the Amaike tissue that floats in the air and gives a ghostly effect. Once the installation was set up, we unrolled the spools down to the floor to create a path from the entrance to the Pavillion.
It’s very difficult to talk about traditional Chinese techniques because there are no structures. Production is not organized and I know artisans who work in the street and sell at bazaars. They work metal, jewelry, silver…often in isolation. There are no federations to unify them or help them develop. It’s difficult to communicate with them and often they are outside of urban centers; sometimes we must go into the depths of Yunnan to find them. I have samples of extraordinary embroidery that I found in old workshops in the mountains. The silk thread used was extremely fine and the quality of the workmanship is outstanding. But the possibility of starting up a production is limited, we would need to organize on-site workshops but that is very difficult to imagine doing, as we are a small business. I hope that Hermès, with Shang Xia, can do substantive work in China to organize such artisanal production, but even for them is has been complicated.
Portrait of Yiqing Yin by Alexandra Utzmann