Front Row: Chinese American Designers

These interviews were conducted for MOCA's 2013 fashion exhibition, Front Row. The exhibition traced and celebrated the rise of Chinese American designers who have made their mark in the international world of fashion. In the interviews the designers discuss the diversity of their aesthetics, their individualized approaches to branding, and how their varying personal relationship to cultural identity has shaped what we now understand as not only New York fashion, but an American sense of style.

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2013.021.011 Oral History with Thomas Chen

Thomas Chen was born in Wuhan, China and moved to Detroit at 11 because of his father’s job. Chen had trouble speaking English but felt assimilated anyway because of his observations of clothing. Chen believes that New York is the true capitol of American fashion. His background as Chinese-American creates a duality.

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2013.021.012 Oral History with Vera Wang

Vera Wang received fashion insight from her mother at a young age. Her time as a young professional figure skater was attributed to her fashion interest. Wang worked at Vogue and met influential individuals and then moved on to Ralph Lauren where she got “on the ground training” as a designer. She then was convinced to start a wedding fashion company by her father. Wang feels that her Chinese heritage has had a general influence on her work in many ways. One way is her use of red in a wedding dress, which was on display.

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2013.021.013 Oral History with Vivienne Tam

Vivienne Tam is born in Canton, and grew up in Hong Kong. Because of poverty, she made clothe for herself in childhood. When she grew up and back to China again, just found the traditional beauty and begin to combine the east and west together and combine the modern and traditional together. Tam devote herself to express the Chinese-ness to the world.

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2013.021.014 Oral History with Wayne Lee

Wayne Lee was born in Chinese family in Vietnam, and grew up in Florida. She was inspired by the coworkers of her first job in Barneys, and began to pursue the career of fashion design. Lee thought the most important spirits of setting up a business in New York are hardworking, passion, persistent, patient, and following your heart.

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2013.021.015 Oral History with Yeohlee Teng

Yeohlee Teng was born in Malaysia and studied fashion at Parsons School of Design. She start her own brand just because she want to get more control over her work. She grow up with the idea of zero waste, and design clothes that one-size-fits-all. And she also think math is the foundation of fashion design business.

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2013.021.016 Oral History with Zang Toi

Zang Toi was born and grow up in a little village in Malaysia and was the 7th boy in his family, and his only younger sister courage him to peruse dream of fashion design. He got design training at Parsons School of Design when he was 20 years old. He doesn’t want to be someone next the big brand and follow the trend, but just want to be Zang Toi, so he start his own brand and put his own stamp on the fashion map. He thinks fashion design is a kind of serious business, not just fashion, hardworking is necessary. Zang Toi is so proud of being the forefront in Asian fashion community, and he thought this is a long way since 23 years ago till now.