The man behind the fashion show

Photo by Yimin Xie

At 9am, a piece of light silk fabric is laid flat on the workbench. He gently picks up the fabric, but the scissors are stuck and he can’t cut it smoothly. He patiently re-flattens the silk, steadies his arm, and clenches the scissors just to make sure the fabric will fit the cardboard.

The sun gradually moves from the left side of the workbench to the right, a scene from the beginning of Guan Bairong’s internship in London.

Guan Bai Rong, who studied Menswear Design at the London College of Fashion in 2013, chose the summer to take up an internship as a designer’s assistant in London for Haizhen Wang. He has been a dresser since he was a child.

Photo by Guan Bairong

“In the beginning, I thought fashion was trendy and I was very particular about my clothes and dressing sense,” Guan recalled in detail.

According to Guan, “It is vital for graduates to choose a good design brand.” Some companies just had interned as cogs in factories doing the same thing over and over again, day after day. Having come to the studio in the summer of his undergraduate studies, he was lucky enough to become a design assistant intern for the Haizheng Wang brand.

He was given a wide range of work to do, including pre-treatment (ironing the fabric), cutting, laying out, and taking part in cutting boards for the development of the brand’s new designs.

The London fashion show left a profound and special impression on the fashion industry. During the preparation for the show, after the designer has finished the drawings, Guan and the other design assistants had to start making the boards, try out the samples, and prepare for the production of each garment.

Backstage of the fashion show, there were only ten seconds between look one and look two. Guan had to make sure he could help the models change into their second outfit in a tight time frame, “which was probably the most stressful part of the show,” said Guan with a helpless smile.

Speaking of the influence of this internship on him, Guan said that once Haizheng Wang’s designer chose to use a tweed material when designing a biker jacket pattern in order to showcase a tougher image of women, and this was an opportunity for Guan to develop a keen interest in tailoring and patterned ready-to-wear and discover his favourite style.

After that he started researching suits of a similar shape, discussing with tailors to design suits of his own style. “I consider Sartorial to be an integral part of my style,” said Guan seriously.

When Guan finished his internship, he said that he learned the essence of fashion is and what kind of work he needs to put behind it. “There’s no doubt about how to create beauty and create fashion, these more technical basics were laid down during the internship phase and gave me an idea of how to handle technical types of things in my future design career.”

“There are so many things that I will remember about London since it was a unique experience for me,” Guan said with meaningful and heartfelt words.

After seeing a series of workflows behind the scenes at London Fashion Week, he realised that for fashion people it is not just about the “few minutes” of a show on stage, but that behind the curtain there is also a group of people who work as hard and as diligently as Guan to make the show held successfully.

At the internship stage, Guan Bai Rong thought that fashion was about the sense of achievement in those few minutes of the show from the designer’s creative point of view, and that all the efforts were for those few minutes to shine on the stage to showcase their talents.

“This is an understanding of fashion that stays at the creative level, but later on I think fashion is a way to slowly explore what kind of style I am, what style would suit me better, and fashion to m becomes an exploration of my own style,” Guan said, gesturing to the hand-made suit he was wearing.

The lights of the fashion show floor began to dim, and the noise died down. Finally, his furrowed brow slowly relaxed, and sweating profusely, he glanced at the spotlights of the show and walked backstage to the dressing room. Looking at the clothes scattered on the sofas and chairs after the battle, he began to bend down and put them all back into their cardboard boxes, one by one, neatly folded.

Words: Yimin Xie

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