Well, I already had my BA in Fashion Design in Shanghai, China before applying to Central Saint Martins. In fact, I had an opportunity to study at Central Saint Martins starting from my second year, but I didn’t go: I delayed the offer to finish my degree. On my final year I got the Best Achievement Prize and was the first runner-up at the Asian Young Fashion Designers Contest during the Singapore Fashion Week. However, I didn’t really want to get a job straight after graduating: I thought I wasn’t ready yet. One day I woke up, I dreamt of an old man, who said, “You shall be sorry for it”. Suddenly, I regreted what I had done and I applied for Womenswear Design pathway at CSM again. Unfortunately, I couldn’t start from the second year… I had to start the course from the first year all over again. Well, I deserved all of it.
Describe these past few years at CSM? And how was your final year?
It was a bit tough, but also wonderful. I’ve learnt how to get over negative things and always have more positive energy when new challenges arise.
I could hear my heart beat whilst working on my final collection. I am glad that I managed to organize everything myself. Final year is not the end, it is just the beginning.
Tell us about your final collection.
The collection is named “Wood Be”, which is grounded in the combination of creating tubes, lines, strings, fringes, as well as waves in different visual ways. I was inspired by ancient musical instruments, and I transferred it into the forms of knit and crochet. Also, the collection’s aim was to explore the idea of using natural alternative materials as the primary source. Wood is one of the most valuable treasures of the nature, and as one of the goals, I tried to refine the traditional techniques of using wood and crafts to fit into the contemporary look.
Each piece represent my personal impression of an ideal woman. These women “wood be” the arrogant and limpid poets. They seems to be hidden in my protection garments.
What were the doubts during the whole process?
I was not quite sure how to combine wood with fabric to make them look perfect together. Also, I had to think about making the pieces not heavy and not fragile either.
What would you advice to future final years?
Don’t stress out. Just be brave! Do not be scared of the mistakes you make: you can always find out new creative ways to resolve them.
What is on your playlist?
Maximilian Hecker, Coco Rosie, Massive Attack
The show’s music I edited from Cocorosie’s Bear Hides and Buffalo.
What’s for the future?
You will find “C.J YAO” in your wardrobes.
In three words, how would you describe your whole CSM experience?
Hateful, Lovable, Irresistible.