Huishan Zhang Spring 2014: Dressed Up Practicality

London has become known for more unique, whimsical, unconventional designers, whose designs, while often impressive, aren't always the easiest to we
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Dhani Mau
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London has become known for more unique, whimsical, unconventional designers, whose designs, while often impressive, aren't always the easiest to we
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London has become known for more unique, whimsical, unconventional designers, whose designs, while often impressive, aren't always the easiest to wear. Which is why it was refreshing to see Huishan Zhang's collection of sweet pastel day and cocktail attire, as it was a collection that had clearly been designed with wearability in mind. And we wanted to wear just about all of it.

The Dorchester Prize finalist and Central St. Martin's grad showed a collection of pretty but not too frilly leg-baring looks including sixties-inspired shifts, and shorts paired with crop tops. The looks were flirty without being try-hard. They were for the type of girl who wants to look girly but smart.

After the show, Zhang told us his inspiration stemmed from Madeleine Vionnet and her use of triangular shapes, with influences from the '30s and '60s, but "presented from a modern point of view." His girl, he explained, is "very dressed." He wanted to represent an elegant girl who cares about craftsmanship, but also lives in the real world. "We want the clothes to be suitable for the modern day life rather than only occasional wear or evening wear."

That motive could be seen in fabrics that actually moved with the body and looked comfortable and effortless. Zhang told us it's all even wrinkle-resistant. We certainly could have used some of that this fashion month.

Another one of Zhang's influences from season to season is his Chinese background and the idea of mixing cultures. He said this season he was inspired by "Chinese mathematics with couture technique," as well as the modern Chinese woman.

"I think the girl [I design for] is somebody who's staying true to themselves and has an appreciation for craftsmanship. It's a modern woman who travels from, say, London to New York and when they open their luggage they have their fabulous dress without any crease. That's the new couture for us."

The up-and-comer hopes to one day build a lifestyle brand with bags, shoes: the works.

He, like a lot of up-and-coming designers who made a splash this week--Dominic Jones, Michael van der Ham--is part of My-Wardrobe.com's London Lab, the e-commerce site's platform for spotlighting key British talent that U.S. markets may not know much about. So now you know! And so does Suzy Menkes, who snuck in at the end, which means this dude's important.

Full disclosure: My-Wardrobe.com graciously covered our trip and accommodations for London Fashion Week.