Looking at a Nova Chiu collection is like sitting through a lesson of the Big Bang theory. The vibrant colour and embroidery is so dense, so electrifyingly hot, that at any minute you expect it to burst, only to expand later with alarming speed.
At least that’s what Nova Chiu and Jeff Archer, the creators of womenswear label Nova Chiu, hope will happen after their first-ever London Fashion Week participation this Friday as Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s Ones to Watch winners. The design duo – they first met as Anna Sui interns in New York – plan to deliver a collection rife with Chinese brocade, digital print leggings and pink-and-purple-dyed rabbit fur. MUUSE dropped by Chiu’s London flat to chat about the new collection, Marc Ecko and yes, cake.
MUUSE: Your London College of Fashion B.A. collection took inspiration from Chinese ethnic fashion and Shangri-la, the fictional Himalayan paradise from James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon”. How is this collection – with all its heavy haberdashery and rich texture – a continuation, or departure from the graduate collection?
NOVA CHIU: Six looks from my graduate collection were not enough to tell the whole story. This season, I really wanted to bring out the shapes of Chinese architecture. Everything this time will be more three-dimensional. Less beading, but more embroidery. And heavy, bright colour. Really bright colour.
Is it me, or do the colours look a bit electric?
JEFF ARCHER: Exactly. We’re going for more neon colour. If you look at how Chinese ethnic groups actually dress, the colours are all toned down.
How do the two of you differ in your creative styles?
NC: I like the fabric more, the colour. He likes more the shape and colour, but at the same time he also likes streetwear.
JA: I got into fashion because of streetwear. I was really influenced by Marc Ecko, and you know, people who started designing streetwear in the mid-nineties.
NC: I like how he brings the element of streetwear thinking to the collection because he makes everything more wearable. That’s the part that I don’t do. I always have such crazy ideas. I want to put lots of things on the body and he always turns to me and says: “No, you’re not doing this”. [Laughs]
Can you describe the typical Nova Chiu customer, or your target audience?
JA: It’s a very eclectic group of people. Right now, we get a lot of offers from music videos and people who want to wear it to show it off.
NC: I think that if they like to different, they will like our collection. We are doing more accessories this time, some hats, bags and scarves. So people can begin by adding that to their closet. They can just get a scarf and put it over a plain black shirt for a little twist of colour.
Do you have much of the Fall-Winter 2012 collection already finished?
JA: I’d say about 75 per cent.
NC: Seventy-five? I think 70 per cent. [laughs] There are still lots of things to do.
With all the pressure to finish in time for London Fashion Week, do you have any obsessions or indulgences to help keep you sane?
JA: Nova likes cake. White chocolate cake, strawberry cake, anything. With whipped cream…When Nova was in New York, I introduced her to pumpkin pie. She never tried that before.
NC: Oh, that was so good. [Laughs] He literally brings me slices and every time I eat them.
JA: I’m obsessed with soccer. Manchester United, Wolverhampton, the U.S. national team. Yeah, big time.
The Nova Chiu Fall-Winter 2012 catwalk show is scheduled for Friday, February 17 at the Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ. The collection will then be on display at the same location until Thursday, February 21st.