Since launching her eponymous label in 2017, the Canadian-born, Chinese-German designer Lisa Von Tang—who is based in Singapore—has built a steady business in Asia, and now she’s hoping to ramp up her womenswear presence here in North America. Showing her fall lineup during New York Fashion Week today, at the elegant Veronika restaurant, Von Tang’s “Dare to Die” collection showcased her signatures—a mix of dressy separates, knitwear, and formal evening wear.
Much of the collection was inspired by Fenghuang, a mythological, phoenix-like Chinese bird. “She falls to ashes, but she rebirths,” Von Tang said. This resulted in motifs of phoenixes applied as embroidery onto evening jackets, and as Swarovski crystals shaped into flames on jumpsuits. Von Tang didn’t shy away from embellishment: One bold catsuit even had sequin flames at the crotch, a detail that read a bit more crass than luxurious.
Where Von Tang excels, however, is in her more pared-back clothes. Many of the slinky knitwear pieces, for example, were thoughtfully made out of recycled nylon, yak fiber, and alpaca. (The whole collection is made in a solar-powered factory.) A cream knit dress had asymmetrical detailing—a long sleeve on the right, and a crystal shoulder strap on the left. For evening, Von Tang also experimented with deconstructing the traditional Cheongsam: The jacket of a magenta silk two-piece suit channeled the garment’s signature curved hemlines, and was particularly fetching. “I wanted to use more stretch materials and make it a little more casual,” she said.
The designer also experimented with the sexy, Y2K mood that seems to be taking over fashion lately. (Have you seen the racy LaQuan Smith show? Her skin-tight satin pants had gold chains built into the front; a red velvet jumpsuit had cut-outs at the waist. It felt right on trend, but Von Tang still has some work to do in cultivating her own identity in a crowded fashion space. The bedazzled snake detailing on a black velvet gown, for instance, felt a bit too reminiscent of Gucci; the velvet catsuits a bit too Balenciaga. It’s clear, though, that Von Tang has an appreciation for her Chinese heritage, and is willing to take the sustainable approach to craft her vision. “I want to do it in a way that doesn’t feel like Chinese New Year—a little more contemporary and modern,” she said.