Liu Chao, founder and artistic director of the eponymous brand Liu Chao Paris, creates his Couture collections from his Atelier at la Madeleine in Paris. By combining wearability with exclusive embroidery and the development of rare fabrics, Liu is able to offer a contemporary "couture-to-wear" collection. We sat down with him to talk about his Spring Summer '18 collection, true craftsmanship, and his biggest inspirations.
Liu Chao studied history of arts at Sorbonne and continued with history of fashion at the Studio Berçot, where he graduated in 2011. He received a professional training in Haute Couture embroidery at the Lesage house. In 2016 Chao decided to step even further within his creative approach by highlighting his admiration for the craftsmanship, his vision of fashion and the technique of his skills, especially through the use of Haute Couture embroidery and the exclusive development of rare fabrics in its collections.
Hi Liu, what’s your mood today?
It’s 38 degrees in Paris, so my mood today is Hot, Too Hot. I’m sweating without doing anything.
You studied history of arts at first place. What made you decide to focus on fashion then? And what brought you to the world of couture?
Actually, Fashion is always my focus, the history of arts is helping me understanding fashion in a different angle. I finished my study in fashion design at Studio Berçot, and then I went to University of Paris Sorbonne for enriching my knowledge in history of art.
Photographer Kin Coedel was able to create quite a telling story for your Spring Summer '18 collection. How did you like it? And what do you think of gender neutrality in general?
I love it very much, and I think it’s quite brave and challenging to work with a male model for a woman couture collection. I was brought up by my mother, she was always wearing costumes. Since in the early years in China, women didn’t have a social status as high as men. My mother always dressed like a man and kept her hair short and clean. So gender neutrality is quiet natural for me. And nowadays men dress more feminine to express themselves which reflects the progress and openness of our society.
Do you think couture should be made more accessible to a broader audience?
For me it’s definitely a yes! Because I really try to work between couture and ready-to-wear, I try to bring something new and energetic for the Paris couture fashion week.
What was your initial inspiration for this collection?
It’s about the Earth ! The harmony among the environment, animals and human beings.
When developing a new couture collection, what is the most time-consuming aspect? Embroidery or the production of fabrics?
It’s the embroidery , the most time-consuming aspect is the embroidery. It takes at least 2000 - 3000 hours for the fine embroidery work of a couture collection.
How do you approach the development of new fabrics? And which role does sustainability play in it?
I always develop the fabrics of my couture collections with French and Italien factories who have the state-of-art technologies. In my collection, sustainability is of vital importance. When I chose the fabric, I pay a lot of attention to its composition. For instance, cotton is a natural plant-based fiber which is durable and biodegradable; wool is also one of the most environmental-friendly options; and silk is natural as well. In my couture collections I don’t use synthetic fabrics considering the damages they may cause to our planet.
What have been your most favorite garments you have created so far?
A bomber jacket which cost almost one thousand hours’ embroidery. It is both couture and modern – wearable for daily life.
What fascinates you about the topic of craftsmanship?
It’s the soul of couture collections. It’s the difference between commercial pieces and the one-piece displayed inside a museum.
Why is craftsmanship so important, especially in current times?
Because people are tired of wearing same things all the time, they want to possess something unique and unusual.
Who are your biggest inspirations ...
... in fashion?
… in art?
… in literature?
… in music?