On one hand, Momo Wang designs covetable folk-inspired modern clothing, incorporating appliqué, re-embroidery and an often an astonishing juxtaposition of texture. On the other, she will not be reproducing her works for sale, having made 12 one-off looks for her capsule collection, 'The Third Hand'. And on the third hand, all of these garments are up-cycled; Wang re-imagines second-hand clothes and fabrics, breathing new energy into their fibre and form.

Her aesthetic comes from the philosophy of French deconstructionist thinker Jacques Derrida, who has commented on the plurality of ‘hands’. Derrida notes that writing is sometimes done with two hands; one composing, and the other critiquing or perhaps deconstructing the prose. Wang adds a third hand to this process as she reconstructs clothing; altering its structure, adding ornamentation, and reconnecting the pieces with handwork such as crocheted seams.

Sass Brown, author of ‘Eco Fashion’ and ‘ReFashioned’, sees the appeal of up-cycled clothing. ‘The beauty and attraction of recycled, redesigned clothing and accessories is the ready-made past, the history and heritage that accompany those textiles, and imbue them with value,’ she explains. ‘In a consumer-driven society of fast fashion, where we have lost our material connection to our clothing, the use of vintage textiles and garments brings with it a tactile history, a knowledge of where it came from and who wore it in some cases. In others it’s an imagined history, but nevertheless a material connection to our material world.’

Certainly, Wang’s collection has a tactile quality: a flounce of cheery tablecloth print peers out from beneath an earth-tone woollen skirt; a blanket stitch secures rustic, appliquéd discs to a thin sweater; that same sweater takes on a ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ identity as it merges with a triple-length narrow peplum made from untamed, brindle fur. Clusters of tiny, bright felt flowers adorn hats, slippers, and necklines, and the pattern on a traditional quilted jacket is re-embroidered, adding further dimension to its already considerable shape…

To read this article by Kate Cavendish in full, order your copy of Selvedge issue 54 here.

Photography by Shuwei Liu

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