All Eyes and Ears

A myr­i­ad of vibrant hand­made flow­ers, beads, shells, conch­es, pearls and sequins intri­cate­ly inter­spersed with large prints, cre­at­ed in promise of giv­ing nei­ther the eye nor the ear rest. Rustling sounds of var­ied tex­tures brush­ing against one anoth­er, chim­ing of bells and jin­gles caused by the move­ment of the pecu­liar mate­ri­als incor­po­rat­ed in her cre­ations are all part of Cheng Cheng’s visu­al and audi­to­ry extrav­a­gan­zas.

“I hope to con­vey hap­pi­ness through sound” she says with a beam­ing smile light­ing up my screen dur­ing our video call one morn­ing.

I see Cheng Cheng hold­ing up her phone to show me inspir­ing pho­tos from her time in Xun­Pu, a small fish­ing vil­lage in Chi­na. Among these pho­tos is one of her­self in a hard-to-miss, strik­ing head­gear of del­i­cate hand­made flow­ers that have been ele­gant­ly woven into her hair. She explains that this was the result of an hour’s effort by her new friend — a grand­moth­er she met dur­ing her vis­it to the vil­lage.

We con­tin­ue to slide through the cap­tures on her phone which are rare images of women from a com­mu­ni­ty whose lives revolve around fish­ing, and their dai­ly activ­i­ties include craft­ing flow­ers, nat­u­ral­ly dying fab­rics and upcy­cling seafood waste into jew­ellery and oth­er visu­al spec­ta­cles. The design­er explains that she has now estab­lished a bond with them, by liv­ing their cul­ture and learn­ing their unique forms of art passed on over gen­er­a­tions and dat­ing to a mil­len­ni­um, which she exhibits in her lat­est col­lec­tion. 

Through her play­ful designs in her Spring Sum­mer 2022 col­lec­tion, Cheng Cheng brings to her audi­ence – Xun­Pu - in its visu­als, and equal­ly in its sounds.

“Bloom by your­self” is a visu­al and audi­to­ry panora­ma of the nat­ur­al tex­tures found around a sea­side town blend­ed with details achieved by the unthink­able capac­i­ty of the human hand. Inspired by its eth­nic cloth­ing and by the unique flower mod­el­ling by its women, free-spirt­ed sil­hou­ettes like flow­ing state­ment trains and flower-like pants effort­less­ly “danced” down the run­ways in Cheng Cheng’s shows in fash­ion weeks around Chi­na.

The young design­er wants to resur­face the spir­it of self-con­fi­dence that women expe­ri­ence by wear­ing the sim­plest of beau­ti­ful things on their bod­ies, like the women of Xun­Pu who adorn them­selves with their unique and orig­i­nal, hand-craft­ed cre­ations. It is the com­pelling par­al­lel between a human beings’ con­fi­dence in feel­ing beau­ti­ful and being full of love for them­selves, and a bloom­ing flower. Cheng Cheng sets a tone of calm­ness that she finds to be miss­ing in a fast paced, indus­tri­al­ized world, that is required by human beings to lis­ten to the inner self. She shares a gen­tle reminder to indulge in the infi­nite beau­ty that is often for­got­ten, though it pre­vails all over Earth. 

Though young and mod­ern in its indul­gence into the dig­i­tal age and cre­at­ing gar­ments for the humans of Gen­er­a­tion Z, Cheng Cheng’s brand is based on appre­ci­a­tion for slow, dili­gent process­es of cre­at­ing exquis­ite pieces of art. She is great­ly inspired by ancient, prim­i­tive crafts­man­ship and forms of liv­ing which she unfolds in her explo­rations of remote com­mu­ni­ties in Chi­na and is com­mit­ted to bring­ing them to the spot­light through her cre­ations. Her brand embraces exclu­siv­i­ty and pro­motes pol­lu­tion-free, pro-envi­ron­ment fash­ion.

Her sig­na­ture style is her fas­ci­na­tion to exper­i­ment with her own fab­rics. This is evi­dent from her first col­lec­tion, “Be a Mon­ster” where she wove togeth­er hand-embroi­dery, chunky beads, gaudy sparkles, and bells to recre­ate a monster’s skin, of course com­plete with the “ring­ing” and “chim­ing” of these mate­ri­als in their move­ment.

Cheng Cheng is devot­ed to explor­ing the unex­plored, be it with her usage of unusu­al mate­ri­als to cre­ate fab­rics, mak­ing her clothes “sound” or con­nect­ing with remote, eye open­ing arti­sanal com­mu­ni­ties in her coun­try.

She dreamt of design­ing clothes when she was five years old and wants to con­tin­ue to explore new mate­ri­als for fab­rics, intri­cate hand­work and slow fash­ion inspired by ancient tra­di­tions, to cre­ate pieces that lure the per­ceiv­er and cap­tures their com­plete atten­tion – all eyes, and ears. 

Cheng Cheng Spring Sum­mer 2022 Behind the scenes

Words Vinaya Naresh
All images Cheng Cheng Spring Sum­mer 2022