interview BY CARLOTTA BUOSI
Styling by : Ivan Bontchev
Photo by : Marcello Junior Dino
Clothes, for Miao Ran, are just like humans. There are two main things they cannot exists without and those are blood and bones. You can try and attach pretty much anything to a body, but with no blood and no bones, it cannot exist, and neither can clothes. For Miao, the pattern in the bone of any item - without it, it’s just a piece of cloth - while the fabric is the blood. So if one manages to have fantastic patterns and good quality fabrics altogether, that’s the winning combination for undeniable coolness. Originally Chinese, now Milan-based, Miao Ran designs thinking of the present and believes in the difference between making fashion - ‘a much more complex business’ - and clothes, which are nothing but products, until someone wears them. Creating pieces people can live in, something they can wear and touch and feel is what he loves the most about his job, just as achieving the right fit and choosing the right fabrics to make the body feel good, any body.
Defining his design as genderless would be an understatement, because of the deeper connection Miao feels with this concept, which his very brand was born into. According with him, clothes are a container for the body, who cares if female or male?
Miao, tell us something about your international background and how it influences you in your work.
I’m Chinese and my journey started in China where I studied fashion production for two years. After leaving school I decided to come to Milan because it’s such an important city for fashion. Here I studied at Politecnico, while learning pattern cutting at the same time. Truly, I am more of a pattern cutter than a designer! That’s what differentiates me from many other designers who usually don’t know much about patter cutting. You can definitely see that in my clothes, too: the volumes, the cuts, they are all the result of my awareness about patterns. Finally, I did my MA in Naba where I am now teaching since four years.
How would you like the people wearing your design to feel like?
Comfortable. Comfort is the highest kind of luxury. More than gold, more than diamonds, coolness and comfort is true luxury.
What brought you to Milan among all the fashion capitals you could have chosen as your home?
Everyone asks me this question but it was really a matter of case! I came here ten years ago and it was my first time ever going outside of China. Milan was my first stop and that’s where I remained. I love it here, it’s such a great city to live in, an industrial city but full of culture at the same time.
Your design is genderless. Was your brand born into this concept or was it something you developed afterwords?
It all started as genderless. I’ve never really spoke about this before but when I was still in school, I made this jacket for my final collection and I showed it to many of my friends. They were all coming from very different backgrounds, belonging to different age groups and doing very different jobs. But they all loved it. They all bought that particular jacket. It was so strange for me but it made me understand that the reason for it was that that particular jacket was right for everyone. I didn’t think of it as genderless at the beginning - that concept wasn't yet a thing - but I discovered its power and I developed my style into it. It was so interesting for me to see how the same design could totally belong to such different characters.
How would you describe your style to someone who has never seen it?
The only thing I could say to someone who doesn’t know my style is to try my pieces on! You have to feel them, it’s a very personal thing. When you try things on is when you understand if they are yours or not. For example, our brand doesn’t have a targeted customer. We don't want to limit ourselves with that, we always say that our only target is someone who knows themselves, who they are. This is the most important thing. When someone knows themselves it means they are able to interpret whatever they wear in their own way. I like the concept of anti-uniform.
How much of your personal style influences your work?
Everything! Every collection starts from the fitting - when we make the patterns - and the first fitting is always done on me. It’s when I wear the pieces that I realise if something works or not, if it fits well or not. I’m the first one I have to convince about something, before I show it to anyone else.
This collection has a very personal inspiration. Can you tell me something more about it? What is that you normally look at to get inspired?
I look at everything but nothing. I am never inspired by a single movie or piece of art - how boring! - I watch very few films and I don’t travel much either, but I love my life and my job. Everything is chaotic and I’m so busy all the time, but my life gives me so much.
This collection, for example, is all about our studio. We are a team of seven and everyone is crazy! It’s kind of like a mental hospital! We had an intern this year and after three months with us he also became crazy! Still, all of us are very professional and very fun, each and everyone with their own role. So this season I just wanted to portray us and our every day life, what we experience together on a daily base.
How do you see the fashion industry today and what would you change if you could?
Fashion is dead. It’s changing so much and I am not quite sure in which direction. I am reflecting on this a lot, I am thinking about it a lot, but the only thing I’m sure of so far is that there will definitely be a change. Speaking for myself, I don’t actually think much of the future. I live in the present and right now I stil need to explain what MiaoRan is all about, what’s my philosophy is and what I want to communicate through my design. I want to keep on transmitting how important it is to be unique, to hold on to our individuality and cherish our personality. Designers are not only meant to build a concept, or sell clothes, but mostly to communicate a message.
Thank you to Next Agency , Milano.