2016 The Show - Cherry Lu, IMPERFECT

Portfolio images - photography by Cherry Lu,  model Shi Shi

Every April, fashion design students from the Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design showcase the culmination of their four years of studies. On one special night they offer their portfolio and lookbook as well as a three look collection on the runway.

36 talented students were a part of 2016 The Show, presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc. and I want to offer my personal kudos to each and every one on a job well done.

While I write a show recap for Metro-Living-Zine (read HERE), I always choose a few students to feature in a solo Q and A. It's always several things that come together when I select a student. Cherry Lu caught my attention in several ways.

First I was intrigued by her runway collection. Then she approached me in the lobby after the show and introduced herself. I noticed the amazing skirt she was wearing (in main image) and was intrigued. When I asked about it, her answer piqued my attention as she also hinted at the versatility of her collection. When I returned home, I checked out her press release more fully -

"IMPERFECT is a lifestyle brand for individual women, featuring distinguished leisure wear that is multi-wearable. The philosophy behind IMPERFECT brings sentimental value to apparel. It is not only a clothing line, but also a silent revolution for celebrating differences and reflecting individuality."

A few days later we connected at a student showcase in Gastown. What I discovered was this collection is formed around eight pieces that can be combined to create 32 different looks. I also loved the fact they weren't the standard classic shirt, pants, skirt jacket offerings. The garments were stylish and unique, with a touch of international influence. I quickly pulled my friend - travel agent Randi Winter - over and she declared it the perfect travel wardrobe.

In addition to runway images and illustrations, four photo strips showcasing the 32 looks are included. Enjoy!

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Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Foshan, Guangdong Province in southern China. I left China to study in Vancouver six years ago.

What you like when you were young?

I really like hand-crafting, as well as collecting when I was young. My parents were busy and I was raised by my grandparents most of the time. I used to spend my own time on folding paper, coloring glasses, and making pencil boxes etc.. These hobbies developed my spatial thinking, analytical, and problem solving skills.

What were your interests in High School?

I wasn’t given the option to take electives when I was studying in China. All the students lived in the dorms, so we didn’t have much leisure time except for studying. However, I was in love with math, and I think this developed my dimensional thinking. Also, I realized that I was interested in different forms of fine art, so I joined student association for graphic design and pictorial.

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion? A personal story would be great here.

My hometown is well-known for apparel manufacturing and sourcing. What’s more, my parents are owners of a kid's apparel manufacturer, and my grandma had been a sewer for more than 20 years before she retired. While being raised in a family that works closely in the fashion industry, I was never forced to follow the same path. My family even joked with me about not wanting me to go in the same path as they did because they know how tough it is. But as a kid, I have always loved playing dress ups and different styles and I think it was only natural for me to go in the fashion industry.

All these lead me onto a path which guides to a fashion career. Nevertheless, my family never push me to follow their path, and they even joked with me about not going in this industry because they know how tough it is.

Noncommittally, I didn’t think too much when I was young, but I knew how much I love playing with styles and dressing. When I look back, it is no doubt that these are the signs for me ending up in fashion.

Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was you family supportive?

As I mentioned above, even though I was working closely with the apparel industry because of my parents, I never thought about going for the fashion path until I studied in Canada. When I decided to leave home and studied abroad, I realized the freedom for me to pursuit what I really want to learn. I followed my heart and gave it a try. I convinced my family and earned their support. Although they are shy to express themselves, I know they are very proud of me.

Why did you choose to study at Kwantlen Polytechnic University?

One of the main reasons was my agent, who helped me with settling down in Canada, recommended Kwantlen to me before I came to Canada. By the time I needed to apply for a school, I did some research online and made comparison. I liked studying at Kwantlen for the intimate class size and the four years fashion bachelor degree they offer. After learning about all the professional skills at Kwantlen, I was even more convinced that all the effort I’ve put in to come to Canada until this day was all worth it.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you, what was easy for you? Are there any high, low or funny moments you can share?

I can’t exactly remember any difficult time studying fashion design. I consider all of the experiences are part of my life, and I can always learn from those failures and be stronger. Since I am good at math, I am in love with the art of solving design and pattern puzzles. I also like to self-explore softwares like Adobe and Microsoft, as well as pattern drafting tools -- Gerber Accumark Technology. There is no doubt that being in this fashion program requires strong commitment. I still remember four years ago, the excitement and tears after I picked up the phone for being accepted in the fashion program. I also remember my hands shaking when my design suprised the instructors.

What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?

This lifestyle brand is called IMPERFECT, inspired by the background of cross-culturalism, which is brought up from the dynamic of globalization. This circumstance triggers people to search for their own cultural roots and their own identity. IMPERFECT wants to spread out the value of appreciating difference through sentimental philosophy in innovative and asymmetrical designs. By using fashion as a silent revolution, IMPERFECT presents the attitude of breaking default norms and social perception. Therefore, IMPERFECT is more than a versatile clothing line, but the philosophy behind the product brings the true value.

Describe your collection?

The theme IMPERFECT Fall 2016 is “Falling, drowning, suffocating … maybe a moment you suffer. Yet it is not an end. Touch ground and rebounce back for another breath of life.” There are always ups and downs throughout our lives. I want to embrace not only the ups, but also the downs as we could always learn something from it. IMPERFECT’s customers are independent strong individuals who have their own stories. They are 25 to 60 years old sophisticated women who value individual choice and freedom, as well as make connections to seek meaning of life.

My collection is distinguished leisure wear, featuring innovative design and multi-wearable function. The thesis collection includes eight pieces of garment which can be mixed and matched for over thirty different looks. They are: wrap coat, reversible jacket, shirt dress, dynamit dress, multi-drape shirt, slit top, skirt pants, and detachable fitted pants.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

Inspired from the theme, color palette for this season is in cool tone, assimilating different forms of water. From surf to waterspout, and back to still deep end, Fall 2016 palette represents ups and downs over time.

Fabrics that I chose have properties like drapability, durability, resiliency, soft hand, and some stain/water resistant. They are warp knit, jersey knit, coal leather, tencel twill, and stretch woven. Some highlighted fiber content is viscose or bamboo blends for comfort and breathability.

Do you have a favourite look?

I don’t have an exact favourite look as they can be paired up easily to have different edge appealing. They are also easily mixed and matched with other products in your wardrobe. Each piece has unique style and comfortable to wear. Not to mention that most of them have multiple ways of wearing, and you will never have enough fun with them.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

I am bringing some new concepts to the fashion world. As “buy less, wear more” is my design philosophy for slow fashion, I have create multiple ways of wearing for garments. For example, some of them can be worn as front or back (180 degree), skirt can be worn all the way around (360 degree), and some are reversible, detachable, and multi-wearable. These designs not only offer sentimental value to the product, but also expand customer’s wardrobe.

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

I am applying for post graduate work permit at the moment and I am planning to apply for local companies in order to stay in Canada. At the same time, I would like to start taking some orders for my own line, but my first priority is still getting immigration identity.

Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you if possible?

One of my own quotes: “Fashion is a silent revolution to make statement of your own.”

Links -
Website: http://cherryloga.wix.com/17cherrylu
LinkedIn: ca.linkedin.com/in/17cherrylu

For information on the fashion design program at KPU go to www.kpu.ca/fashion