He headed the marketing department of Nelly Rodi, from 2000 - 2009 he was the fashion designer for Maison Martin Margiela, today he is the Managing Director of Imane Ayissi, as well as professor and fashion critic: Jean-Marc Chauve, a graduate of ESC Dijon in Business, of the University of Lyon-2 in Sociology and Semiology of Fashion and of Fashion Design and Modelling of the former CMT/Mod’Art, now he is the sharp eye of IFA Paris: he is our Fashion and Image Director. Jean-Marc Chauve explains in this interview the exceptional creativity of the young designer Kit Seng Lei, born in Macao, and newly graduate of IFA Paris. This is the narration of a revelation.
Michel Temman: A new graduate of IFA Paris, the young designer Kit Seng Lei seems to have made a sensational buzz during the presentation of his latest collection at the end of the fashion school's fashion show. What caught your attention the most in his creative work?
Jean-Marc Chauve: The very good appreciations of the collection of Kit Seng Lei by the jury of professionals who evaluated his collection, as well as the guests during the graduate show of the Master of Arts Contemporary Fashion Design program, are due to his professionalism, his inspiration, both very personal and fully in a current trend and I think of his humour, his sense of being offset. More generally, it is not only his collection, but the entire background of Kit Seng which reveals his potential: he first studied our Bachelor in Fashion Design & Technology on the IFA Paris campus in Shanghai, and followed it with the Master of Arts Contemporary Fashion Design in Paris. The advantage of being a graduate of our Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design – which emphasizes on creativity but also technique – is that Kit Seng was able to start his Master with all the skills already acquired in design, modelling and computer design. He was thus able to concentrate on deepening his style, on what the Parisian environment could bring to him as inspiration and as a freedom of creation. He has worked with a number of subcontractors and suppliers and succeeded in getting exactly what he had imagined, both in manufacturing and in materials and accessories. As a tutor, I followed his collection project very closely, and I can say that the final silhouettes are surprisingly close to the sketches that he drew. He also quickly knew in which directions he wanted to go, so much so that my work was limited to encouraging him in his creative freedom and a few tips on silhouette adjustments. But Kit Seng is not only a very creative designer, he was one of the best students of this graduating Master class, whether in the creative workshops, the modules of fashion culture, management or communication. He has always been very involved, working hard, and this passion that he puts into his work is the sign that we are dealing with a truly creative designer, a complete one! With a vision both ultra-creative and business minded.
M.T.: How has his work has been welcomed by the professionals?
Jean-Marc Chauve: Beyond the praise of the professionals present at the Graduate Show of the Master of Arts Contemporary Fashion Design, it is a little early to say. In fact, the fashion show is only the starting point of an important communication work on his capacities, illustrated by this first collection. It is his job now and I’m confident that IFA Paris can also support him in this process.
M.T.: What do you think differentiates his style and makes it unique? How do you define his style full of audacity?
Jean-Marc Chauve: I think he has a capacity to mix, to divert inspirations that are in the air of time to make something surprising. His collection is inspired by the 90s and the streetwear of this decade, which is very trendy, with polly pockets, these toys for girls very popular at that time. He was able to draw a range of colours at the same time harmonious and flashy, prints full of humour but visually very seductive. He doesn’t forget that a garment is also a matter of volume, of relationship to the body, and his cuts, his oversized volumes coupled too much fitted ones are precise and particularly well done. He is also a designer who thinks and knows every detail, as well as the finishing, as the different techniques used to create patterns, and the styling and his wish to accessorize his silhouettes, which again gives a very professional look. Moreover, he has this capability, including in this last collection, to create amazing clothes for the show and to produce strong images, like his plastic t-shirt or his enormous links of coloured chains, which accompany pieces with high commercial potential like his printed t-shirts or cyclists.
M.T.: A new scene has emerged in Chinese fashion. Young stylists, based in China or abroad, offer a different and fresh tone, sometimes humorous or inversely rather sober, but still very free. Kit Seng Lei seems to be one of these new talents, very promising?
Jean-Marc Chauve: Indeed, we are witnessing the arrival of Chinese designers able to compete in terms of modernity and creativity with international creators and luxury brands. They are not yet very numerous to appear in Paris or in London but they undeniably bring a new breath. In Shanghai and Beijing, the clothes of these young talents are found in the Dong Liang shops, which distribute and promote them. These designers have very different universes but with two main trends: a minimalist current, sometimes quite dark, where the very sophisticated materials have the main share. The best representative of this current is, in my opinion, Uma Wang, whose silhouettes can somewhat remind one of the work of Anne Demeulemeester in the 90s, but revisited in a very personal way. The second trend is inspired by all the streetwear streams of the 80s and 90s but in a very sophisticated version, often full of humour and with an assumed sense of provocation. One can cite in this category Sankuanz. Kit Seng Lei’s collection is clearly part of this second stream, and I think he has all the potential to quickly become one of these talents, able to join the international “creative” scene.
We interviewed Kit Seng Lei on his final collection for his Master of Arts Contemporary Fashion Design studies, in which he explains his background and inspirations. His interview can be read here: Kit Seng Lei Interview