Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!
Seattle Refined: How does styling and fashion count as art?
Angeline Oei: Fashion can be considered as art when it makes a statement related to things that are happening around the world or expresses something that has to do with the human condition, and can still be regarded as relevant even in retrospect. I would say that fashion or clothing design, is more of an applied art, as it has to be functional and commercially viable.
How long have you been designing? Do you work with other mediums?
I have been in the fashion industry close to 10 years now. I studied fashion design in Amsterdam Fashion Institute. I interned and worked as a designer for various international companies from small, independent brands to large, established labels in Antwerp and Singapore, before moving to Seattle just over a year ago to start my own line. Beside clothing, I freelance as an illustrator and graphic designer. I enjoy collaborating with other businesses on projects where I have to interpret someone else’s vision and ideas, develop new creative skills, and still maintain my own handwriting.
Tell us about your new business.
A.Oei is a contemporary womenswear line that focuses on ease, subtle tailoring and unique prints. Every collection plays with combinations of graphic and abstract prints, shapes and textures that can be mixed and matched beyond seasons. Pieces are produced with small manufacturers in Seattle, Vancouver and Singapore. Fabrics are primarily of natural fibers like Cotton and Silk, largely sourced from Japan. I work closely and personally with these factories to ensure quality control and a fair and professional manufacturing environment. A.Oei Studio is also a creative platform that provides custom print and clothing designs to individuals and other businesses.
Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I start off by creating a moodboard with a few images and colors. From there, I start designing the prints and playing with different fabric manipulation ideas like pleating or draping. Because prints and fabrics are such strong visual and textural elements, they usually set the tone/mood of the collection. Once the print is completed, it becomes really easy to start sketching and selecting the designs. I do all the design prototyping in my studio, from sketching, pattern-making to sewing of samples, before sending them out to small, local manufacturers for production.
Tell us about where the inspiration for your styling/designing come from?
I draw inspiration from art, architecture, nature, books/articles, nature. I try to come up with concepts that relate to social and technological trends.
Do you have a specific “beat” you like best when it comes to fashion?
It should be clean, versatile, accessible, and contain an element of surprise - maybe in a little detail or a finishing technique.
What fashion icons do you have/who inspired you when you were young?
Japanese designer Issey Miyake and British Designer Hussein Chalayan. Their collections weren’t just about clothing, but were also innovative in the use of materials and technology and presented strong, compelling narratives that captured the zeitgeist of their time.
What experiences in your life have affected your designing/business?
Living and working in different countries has allowed me to experience the fashion industry from different perspectives. From designing experimental show pieces, to working for ready-to-wear brands that developed over 100 styles-per-season/4 seasons-per-year, to freelancing as a print and graphic designer, I feel more flexible and open-minded about the business, and less restricted by the seasonal trends of fashion.
If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
You can find my current Spring collection at local boutique Clementines, or shop online at www.aoei-studio.com. If you would like to try on a piece or inquire about custom designs, you can also make an appointment to visit my studio at the Inscape Arts and Cultural Building.
What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
I am currently working on a Fall’18 collection called Hybrids (see attached images), which is inspired by hybrid flowers and the dynamic, fantastical world of cross-breeding. The Hybrid Print is a patchwork of floating fluorescent flowers that play with sharp bursts of colors like gold, turquoise and burgundy. The collection is vibrant and moves from loose fluid silhouettes with soft drapes to clean asymmetrical lines, and from heavy brushed wool to smooth silky tencel.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
With milk and sugar.