Designer Angeline Oei originally hails from Singapore, but her contemporary womenswear brand, A.Oei Studio, fits seamlessly into Seattle's sartorial sensibilities. It combines interesting graphic designs, abstract shapes, original prints, and textures with easy silhouettes—relaxed culottes, kimonoesque tops, comfortable textiles. Oei, who studied fashion design in Amsterdam and worked in Antwerp and Singapore, has lived in Seattle for just over year and launched her first collection in October 2016. For her Fall 2017 collection The Earth Is Always Moving (available online and at Clementines in Pioneer Square), Oei was inspired by a trip through the Rocky Mountains; her website reads: Geological processes and formations remind us of a constantly changing natural landscape and our need to locate ourselves in a perpetually impermanent state. In the collection, black graphic panels cut across abstract landscape prints, soft pastels and heather textures. A play of darts, shifting seams and asymmetrical hemlines. 
 
Without further ado, Oei talks about Seattle as a "fashion city" and what inspires her designs. —Rosin Saez
 
Seattle doesn’t tend to come to people’s mind when it comes to fashion, though I think that’s definitely changing. I had visited Seattle a few times before and liked the fact that it's on the fringes of major fashion cities like LA and NYC, and that there's a quiet, bubbling underground creative energy. 

I love touching fabrics, how it drapes and moves around the body, and examining all the different seams and details of a garment. As far as I can remember, I've always been sketching and imagining what people would wear. But it was my fashion design education in Amsterdam that really pushed me forward creatively and technically. 

The Earth Is Always Moving was inspired by a train trip through the Rocky Mountains. The prints are digitally manipulated photographs that I took of the mountains. I took this train trip last year in March with my boyfriend: three days and three nights from Vancouver, B.C. to Toronto. He proposed traveling over land via Canada. 

I was also inspired by Richard Serra's East-West installation in Qatar Desert. (I've never seen it personally though I have seen some of his other works). The aligned, tall and rigid steel plates in the middle of the desert seemed like a way of locating oneself in the vast expanse of the desert - and that's how I sort of connected it with my train trip, and how the collection could express this desire to locate oneself in a changing natural landscape. In the collection, I combined strong graphic panels with abstract landscape prints. 

My source of inspiration changes with every new collection based on what I read or see, and whether the subject is relevant or contemporary. I use prints as a visual way of telling stories. My upcoming Spring 2018 collection Flourish, is inspired by Artificial Intelligence and the concept of creating an ideal human form. In this collection, I deconstruct a face print to make it look almost like a floral, leafy print—like foliage. This was also inspired by Russian artist Naum Gabo's head sculpture, which is a huge steel sculpture of a reconstructed head.

I like to examine the works of other designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Martin Margiela. As someone who is very hands-on and technical in the design process, I am much more excited when I discover new techniques while draping or sewing.

 

If you missed A.Oei popups last month with Seattle Collective or inside Inscape Arts Open Studios, she has one more for you Californians:

 Dec 8 & 9, noon until 7, Shop Viscera, 1542 Broadway, Oakland 

Or, peep her latest lines at the A.Oei Studio website.

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