On a gray Saturday afternoon in early March, Uma Wang was in her sliver of a Paris showroom on Rue Sainte-Anastase in the Marais, working as designer, sales agent and model, as she tried on a long black coat for a pair of Australian buyers. Everything in the room, from the clothes on the racks to the clothes on Wang’s back, was black, with two exceptions: the designer’s jolting, size 41 men’s oxfords, and a crimson velvet dress that hung in the window. “We don’t really use red, but everyone thinks it’s a beautiful color,” says Wang. “It’s also very Chinese.”
The same can be said for the 39-year-old Wang, who, unlike Vera Wang and Alexander Wang, is actually from and still lives in China. She grew up in a family of doctors in the northern Mainland before moving to Shanghai to study fashion—knitwear, specifically—18 years ago. Wang is one of the few Chinese designers to gain notice on the high-end international fashion circuit, showing her fall collection, her first solo runway show, in front of an audience of 700 during Milan Fashion Week. Wang has also been taken into the Vogue incubator, with supporters in Angelica Cheung of Vogue China, Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia and Anna Wintour. Beginning in May, Wang will be in New York as part of a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund exchange program, wherein she will spend time learning the American fashion system, while Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler do the same in Shanghai.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"