For the Spring Summer ’18 collection Renli Su looks back to her childhood spent growing up by the sea in China’s Fujian province. Water has always been a recurrent theme in Su’s work, and here becomes the central focus, with inspiration taken from Yuji Obata’s photographs of falling snowflakes, from which ideas of transience, impermanence and change form the basis of her collection.
Oversized silhouettes with softened curves and rounded cuts evoke the winding streams and organic forms found along China’s Southeastern coast, while cloud-like textures and delicate ruffle details call to mind the froth and fury of the sea. The force of moving water finds expression in skirts made from panels of different striped cotton fabrics, with their clashing lines lending the collection a flowing, directional rhythm.
Photography/ Marc Hibbert
Styling/ Nina Walbecq
Make up/ Meekee Song
Hair/ Asahi Sano
Model/ Katie Neels @ Elite London
Fabrics are dotted with embroideries of tea olive flowers, local to Su’s hometown, that are a sweetness far removed from the fast pace of the city. They appear subtly as black on black embroideries or jewel-like in silver silk thread on elegant drawstring bags, doubling as snowflakes in the shape of intricate stars.
The collection is balanced by utilitarian influences, with large patch pockets, tie-front shirts and oversized smocks of set against flowing, A-line silhouettes, while other details like toggle-tie collars and hoods serve as practical considerations, made for walking along the shore.
Tender and tactile, Su’s latest collection is a personal refection, exploring the subversive notions of femininity alongside her own experiences of the complexities of identity, both fnding expression in the changeable nature of water in all its forms, whisking us from inner city to coastal Fujian.