2nd Year Reviews: Jiaqi Kou by Grace Strattan

Jiaqi Kou is a fashion designer who makes garments made for the individual. Drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese costuming and pieces that have specific usefulness, she creates modern day pieces for everyday clothing. Jiaqi is interested in what drives one to choose what one puts on in the morning. What does clothing say about the wearer? Wearing pieces that include elements with a built in history give the person wearing the garment a sense of history as well as crafting a story and an identity.

According to Kou, trends will pass away over time, but style has always been and will always be here to stay. Style is something that is timeless because it relates to the human body, which is a timeless structure. Different fashion designers build off of the body in different ways but they all start from the same point, making that the constant across all of time and across all cultures.

The human body is still the subject of many art forms and fashion can address so many different aspects of the human figure and its movement.

Kou pulls source material from the natural world including glaciers, moss, water, and human emotions. Sometimes the printed and layered face of the model that wears the garment refers to the many faces of the individual and the complex sides of people. Other times, the techniques and materials used might refer to natural textures or patterns or colors. Kou seeks out new techniques and unconventional materials to represent or stand for certain natural elements.

As a designer, the artist must think about things that fine artists do not. The most important of these is the customer and for Kou’s work in particular, the individual customer, who sometimes the garment was made specifically for. Taking that person’s body into consideration or her emotional state or making fabric with a print of her face to reflect the side of the model that is not seen. A way that is designed and meant to be seen and put on display.

One of the things that is interesting about this work is that seasons mix and match. So, when the clothing looks like it belongs in summer, the subject and inspiration is taken from glaciers, as one example. The spring clothing has knit elements as part of the accent pieces and accessories.

Across the different collections of clothing there is a very specific aesthetic for inspirations and that is seen in the work. The lines are very clean and some beautiful diagonals happen. Kou uses textures in unexpected and exciting ways. Color is often subdued. Likely in a blue or brown, white or pink. The fabrics are delicate.

The garments that Kou creates are not merely for people to have clothing to put on. They are to express ideas. She seems to question how one might create a garment that expresses an idea so well that the wearer can read that in the piece and communicate that idea to people who see her.

To learn more about Jiaqi’s work and her process please visit http://jiaqikou.tumblr.com/

As part of the second-year graduates’ Thesis Projects I course, candidates were each assigned two of their cohort to review. As students begin writing their thesis papers and constructing artist statements, this review process proves to be beneficial twofold. Students not only exercise their written critique skills, but are able to read about their own project from other voices. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting these reviews, so be sure to visit regularly for insights and photos of the second years’ progress!

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