SARAWONG is a fashion label which is focusing on the perfect combination of traditionalist and romantic. Its style features traditional feminine forms with a contemporary twist, giving a sense of originality and infinity.
Sara Wong took the position of Creative Director at the brand of her name in 2019. Through her artistic endeavors, she conveys her notion of balanced habits: a unique state where a woman achieves her equilibrium in life, attractive and courageous, contrary and revolutionary.
1. How was your label created? Which were the most important values and did they change ever since?
First of all, I wanted to thank you for this opportunity, it’s a pleasure to introduce you to my colorful world.
After university, I worked for an accounting firm for some years. But I immediately understood that it wasn’t my dream and I decided to turn my life around and start a new career as a fashion designer. I wanted to give my vision and that everything was under my artistic direction. SARAWONG grew up very quickly and I grew up with it.
2. Can you tell us what made you change your career to the fashion industry?
I have a master’s degree in finance and I suppose this training has branded my logic and structural process abilities with a very different mindset. I’m quite sure to have a good sense of rationality and balance that combined with my creativity allowed me to find the right mix of commercial variability and design. My career in fashion officially starts in 2010. When I returned to China I took over the position of creative director at MAXRIENY, I worked immediately on the collection but also I reinvented the interior design of our retail stores. Years later I created and started to work in my family company. As I told you before, my school background and my first experience inside an accounting firm allow me to have a critical eye on my design. I love creativity and follow my artistic instinct but I know that at the end of the season, the accounts must balance. I have the responsibility to keep the company active and having financial skills, surely helped me a lot to understand the commercial dynamics.
3. You combine these two different currents, romantic and traditionalist. What made you choose these two in particular?
Art is my first passion, and often I take inspiration from it, but also I love to mix cultures: past and present, East and West, romantic and traditionalist, and classic and contemporary. In my collection, I always mix the elements of different cultures. My preferred mix is the combination of the charm of Oriental culture with the European art movements such as New Classicism and Romanticism. SARAWONG was born with the idea of being able to create collections with a dreamy and romantic taste. A visual image that leads to dreamlike sensations, accentuated by the presence of different shades of Chinese tradition. Two currents, romantic and traditionalist, express themselves within the collections, using modern vehicles as mixtures of asymmetrical shapes and cuts.
4. Explain to us more about your last Fall-Winter 23/24 collection. What was the main idea of inspiration? What did you want to achieve with it?
Suzhou culture, balancing the delicate elegance of Suzhou garden architecture with the muted beauty of Kunqu opera costumes. The clothing elements are tassels, cloud shoulders, patchwork, sleeves, and window wool knitting. Tassel is a light and graceful ornament that has been passed down and developed through the generations. The cloud shoulder is a unique style in Chinese dress culture, rich in decorative motifs, symbolic art language, numerical metaphors, and profound cultural heritage. The journey of awakening to the power of women begins with The Peony Pavilion (one of the symbols of the rise of the folk sense of individuality in a love story that pioneered the freedom of women to pursue love, known as the Romeo and Juliet of the East), the true power of freedom is to follow the beauty of the women one identifies with, to experiment, to question, to rejoice, to pursue love and to enjoy the confidence and beauty of being a woman. SARAWONG’s collection aims to inspire a relaxed, happy mood, providing a way for people to heal themselves and find their piece of fun, even in uncertain times. An invitation to everyone to experience the dream and find their piece of paradise on earth.
5. What do you want to communicate through your designs?
My collection has no boundaries on time or space. I create my collections for strong and independent women to always have a sense of dedication and tenacity but at the same time, they are very friendly and romantic. I found inspiration also in daily life, in little things. I usually travel very much (not in this period, unfortunately) and meet a lot of people. I always pay attention to all the details and fix them in my mind, so when I start the design process I put them together. My goal is to create a fantasy world where everyone wearing SARAWONG can feel empowered and inspired by the harmonic beauty of art.
6. Looking through all your work, which is your favorite collection and why do you consider it?
I like all my collections, including the latest FW23.24 Dreams in Paradise, but also my previous collections such as the FW21.22 Tartary – Shades of Mongolian inspired by Inner Mongolia, the FW22.23 Summit of Purity inspired by Lhasa and Tibetan culture, and the SS22 Miao’s Rhythm of Colour inspired by Miao culture. Each collection and theme that I have made at the moment brings with it memories and feelings that are all very different from each other. But they always have a heritage and a story to tell, so I am very attached to them.
7. Has fashion design become more than a job for you? If yes, express the moment when you realized that.
Doing SARAWONG design is not a job for me, it’s more of a selfexpression. When I first founded the brand, I didn’t intend to do something commercial, it was more about trying new collisions in cultural integration and creation. So it didn’t become a job for me, it was more of an artistic way to create. For sure art creation itself is not understood by everyone, it may just be something beyond reality, so for me, it is more of an artistic creation process. But at the moment, I still face the need to think about how to turn art into commercialization.
8. Which do you think was the first moment that brought you prosperity? Do you consider that was the beginning of success for you?
Every time I’m able to create a new collection that is a success, it doesn’t say which time is the beginning of success. Each collection starts with inspiration and is a success when the whole collection can be presented in its entirety. It will not affect the next time, the next season will be a fresh new start. Whether it was good or bad in the past, it was an inspired attempt at the time, and there is no such thing as success or failure for SARAWONG. SARAWONG is an experimental brand and every experiment is a success. What comes behind the success of the experiments is a reflection on one’s growth and how to continue to improve the balance between art and integration.
9. How has medieval art shaped your creative process through the years and why multicultural diversity is very important for your brand?
As I said before, I’m an art fanatic, not just focusing on medieval art, but art in general. Therefore this collection I usually combine them with the European style structure. Hopefully, it will have an artistic presentation with the creation of styles. As powerful women, we need a lot of courage to accept and tolerate to produce more valuable concepts and creations. We must be determined, be ourselves, and be different. The multicultural diversity is fundamental to my brand because through this I hope to break down this climate of ignorance and closedmindedness that exists even in the fashion world. I think no matter where you are, you have been impacted and influenced by different information, and we are also integrated by diversified cultures. I like to express my design in the way of fusion like different eras, different cultures, and different fabrics. Every time I combine different elements and it seems like doing an interesting experiment. I have been always pursuing innovation, uniqueness, and balance.
10. Tell us what is your creative process. How are you starting and which are the following steps?
I start by looking for inspiration, which comes from different kinds of feelings, sensations, and memories of a particular culture in my life. All the things that happened during that process back, then gave me the images and the feelings in my mind I couldn’t forget, which was the initial part of the inspiration. Then in the process of finding fabrics, some give me a special feeling, or the color combination between different fabrics creates new sensations in me. Then I think about how these things combine to form the silhouette of the product, the details of the garment, and the subsequent design process to present the story and atmosphere that the garment wants to express, which will match the inspiration source of the image I was initially inspired by.
11. Where do you see yourself shortly as a fashion designer?
I will continue to use my design to communicate with the world, and to leave some marks for a designer like me at this age. I put all of myself in my collections, they are the concrete realizations of my dream. Now I feel the need to show my face, I want my women to recognize themselves in me, and giving my name to the collection is a way to tell them: this is me, this is SARAWONG. My creation reflects my personality, my dream, and my passion, in one word: my life. So I think that’s why the collection bears my name. I hope to leave a mark in the fashion world.