Be Brilliant, Be Bold, Be YOU – The True Fashionista!
Coco Chanel once said “Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Fashion is living with us every day. It is not just the clothing we put on, or matching a red shirt with pink pants; it is a lifestyle. We know very little about fashion, and yet we cannot live without it.
Mr David Leung, one of the very first Chinese designers to work directly with Gianni Versace, has dedicated his whole life to fashion and textile and is now moving one step forwards, influencing young talents through his story and experience as the Director of Fashion Design of our Foundation!
Dream Big and Take Risks
Mr Leung’s career in fashion started by picking up pins on the floor and buying coffee for designers, just like all the other graduates in this field. He spent years developing the skills and techniques needed to become a successful fashion designer until he finally decided to follow his passion and moved to Milan, Italy, with no friends, no job, and no knowledge about the culture or the language. He gave up everything he had in New York and started to knock on doors with his resume and portfolio, hoping to get recognition and work from the top designers. It was truly a dream-come-true moment when he finally got the chance to meet Mr Gianni Versace, not only hearing positive feedback from Mr Versace but also being offered a position in the design team for Versace.
During his time with Versace, he contributed many creative and innovative ideas. One of the most iconic designs of all is the “Medusa” logo, which has now become a brand identity for Versace.
The iconic Medusa logo designed by Mr David Leung
The Philosophy of Fashion
Mr Leung believes fashion isn’t just about clothing, but a lifestyle where the designer has a visual communication with audience through their design. “People often only see the 15 minutes of fame during fashion shows but do not know the years of effort we put in,” Mr Leung sighs. As a fashion designer, doing sketches is only one tiny part of the job. “Doing Research, knowing the history, the contemporary pop culture, and the market trends, is all important while creating a brand name and making a product which everyone likes,” said Mr Leung.
When it comes to fashion design, the design itself is still a very important part of the product. Mr Leung’s inspiration in design doesn’t come from a particular artist or designer. He shared that the key to any design is observation, exploring different cultures and world histories or simply sitting at the side of the street watching the world pass by. These are all good ways to understand what the world is trying to tell us and what people really like! “That’s why I particularly admire Miuccia Prada. As the head designer of Prada, she was never trained to be a fashion designer. Her Ph.D. in Political Science gradually developed a style in her, and all her progressive ideas were often reflected in her designs, the understated glamour and the refined elegance,” shared Mr Leung. She gives us her personal voice and addresses humanity through her designs, and this is what Mr Leung believes design should be doing – to tell your own story and to tell the world who you are!
The Next Step
After years of dedication in the fashion industry as designer and creative director in Milan, Paris and New York, his life has gradually become restless. It was at this moment when Mr Leung decided to indulge his passion in fashion in another way, which is teaching, passing on his experience and training young talents as independent designers. While teaching at the Parsons School of Design, Mr Leung received a message from his two life-long mentors, Dr Betty Chan and Professor Paul Yip asking him whether he would like to come to Shanghai and develop a fashion and textile A Level curriculum for YWIES Shanghai Gubei. It was a huge dilemma for Mr Leung at first, giving up New York again and going to a completely new environment. But at the end, what really changed his mind was when Dr Chan told him he will be sharing his own experience with the whole country and influencing a wider community by coming to China.
It wasn’t easy for Mr Leung at the beginning, not only that he needed to get familiar with the culture as well as the people, but there were also challenges waiting ahead when building up the programme. This A Level programme is designed to be more concentrated for Art and Fashion, so we need to offer the right courses to students while being able to fulfil university requirements, and prepare students for examinations and university education with all the necessary courses. Therefore, finding instructors can be a big challenge as well, since the requirements and standards are very specific.
But eventually, like many stories, this one for YWIES Shanghai Gubei ended happily. The big upgrade will be coming in September, providing a three-year curriculum for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in Art and Design. We offer courses such as foundation of art, business, as well as lifestyle and wellness, language and portfolio building. This concentrated curriculum will provide the right courses for those who want to cultivate interest in this field, preparing them for not only university but also career.
Mr Leung hopes through this programme, we will be able to train young talents how to be creative and innovative using their own hands and brain. Finally, Mr Leung suggested “We need to dream big, set goals, and work hard! Not only just the fashion industry, but we all need to be observant of what is happening around the world, while still looking at small details as well! Being passionate with work, life, family and everything we do is the ultimate goal, and eventually you will be able to tell your own story and tell the world who you are!”