Interview with Yan To
A typical question for a designer, but what if anything inspires you the most?
‘I am inspired by my desire to present the female form in an empowering, sensual, intelligent way. I want my women to feel amazing when they wear one of my dresses.’
You famously work away from London, deep in the countryside, why?
‘I have young children who came about before I started my label. It would be deeply unfair to uproot them to the metropolis.’
Your pieces, and indeed collections are acknowledged for their innovation, particularly when working with elastic and body con. What is it that draws you to these materials?
‘I kind of stumbled onto working with elastics for my AW10. I was surprised that no-one had ever used it this way before so being the pragmatist that I am, I decided to see how far I could go with it as a material. Coincidently, there are a few elastic manufacturers very close by so I have access to some great materials and for SS13 they are helping me develop more luxe elastics. I believe that for a body-con dress to work, the woman should be able to wear the lingerie that befits her mood and not have to resort to control pants.’
For you, what is the most important aspect of your work?
‘It needs to have a strong integrity. I am drawn to discovering new techniques. I also want to create work that is incredibly good value for money. Most of my work is hand finished and often pieces are unique in some way.’
What were the influences behind your SS12 collection?
‘I wanted to capture the majesty of the English countryside as seen on numerous walks I went on during last summer.’
What do you define as ‘style’, do you consider anyone to be a style icon?
‘It’s a hard question. It’s like getting someone to define love. If I have to answer I would say that visual perception of a person is like a triangle. On one apex is in-consequence, on the second is WTF and on the third is style. I guess we all fit somewhere in the triangle? The difficult part is that everyone’s triangle is different, hence we go back to visual perception…’
‘As for style icons there are too many to mention but I thing Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel would definitely be near the top.’
What can we expect for AW13?
‘A far darker palette and a more structural collection. I am working on the idea of Seductive Armour.’
Yan To is a mysterious designer whose collections are universally praised as innovative, wearable and beautiful. Famous for his work with elastics, sumptuous textured surfaces and garments that aim to both embrace enhance a woman’s figure. His Spring/Summer collection is no exception. Sensual, summery mini-dresses are swathed and embellished in panels of woven fabric, alluding to the textural, three dimensional feel of his overall aesthetic. The pieces are varied too, some are classically simple in design, whilst others are framed by complex, contrasting details. Due to the nature of Yan To’s work, each garment is often without an exact replica; slight variations and details vary so when you wear one of his dresses you’re wearing something entirely unique. That is what I love about Yan To as a designer: talented, innovative and creative though he is, he has the eventual wearer in mind – He wants women to look and feel amazing and really, what else are clothes for?
You can follow Yan To on twitter @byyanto and find his clothes stocked at Harrods, Layers, and Young British Designers.
Michael Mulligan is a student of Fashion Journalism in the UK. As Style Editor of GabrielleTeare.com, he’ll keep you up to date with all the latest fashion trends.