Chelsey Wong’s “Textilier” Collection Combines Futuristic and Victorian Styles

Her graduate thesis collection is set to debut at the 2018 fashion show

Chelsey Wong of KPU’s fashion design and technology program poses with a garment from her Textilier collection. (Ashley Hyshka)

In KPU’s newly-built Wilson School of Design, fourth-year fashion student Chelsea Wong has created a seamless blend of Victorian and futuristic styles with her upcoming collection, “Textilier.”

Wong is slated to unveil her graduation collection alongside 31 of her peers on April 19 and 20 at the School of Design’s year-end fashion show. She says that she feels “both excited and stressed out” to finally let the world see her work.

“I kind of wanted to end my career here at KPU with a bang,” she says. “That was my intention—to be a bit more out of the box.”

According to Wong, her collection is “high-quality steampunk wear for the woman who’s fully immersed in the culture and the lifestyle of steampunk.” The name of the collection comes from a forum for online role playing games, and is used to refer to someone who makes clothing in the steampunk genre.

“I would love to see someone walk down the street wearing my jacket or my pants,” she says.

Much of the inspiration for Wong’s work comes from combining different types of clothing and researching styles that aren’t well-represented in the fashion industry. She says that, aside from certain Halloween costumes, the industry doesn’t really tailor to steampunk’s elaborate fashions or everyday garb.

Wong “fell in love with sewing” as a little girl, back when she would sew by hand because the sewing machine frightened her. As she studied textiles in high school, her love of fashion and design grew. Eventually, her teachers at Kwantlen Polytechnic University suggested that she try the fashion design and technology program, which she says she had previously never considered as a career choice.

Wong says her journey thus far has been “exciting, but stressful, but also really rewarding.” Through the program, she has learned a lot about both fashion design and business, and says that she now understands the entire process of creating a line of clothing, from drafting an idea to bringing it to life.

The Wilson School of Design prides itself on mirroring the actual fashion industry, so whether a student wants to be a fashion designer or an entrepreneur, they gain real-world experience while taking classes there, according to Wong.

“For me personally, it’s really gratifying when you’re able to see all the pieces of the puzzle coming together—the little bits of your design process and then your research, colours, and then drafting, and then sewing it all up. Then you’ve got this beautiful garment at the very end,” she says.

The year-end fashion show is for students to showcase their work to the community, and to put their talents on display for the fashion industry. It also helps promote KPU as a leading-edge institution in the world of design. This will be the first year that the show will be held at the Wilson School of Design.

Following graduation, Wong wants to remain in the industry as a junior technical designer. The job entails taking a designer’s sketches and working out the practical problems before creating a prototype to send to production.

“We do an internship in third-year, so we’ve all kind of had a taste of what it’s like in the industry,” says Wong. “Now that I’ve had that taste in my mouth, I’m ready.”

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