Meet The Winner Of The Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize: Huishan Zhang

01 November 2013 by

Huishan Zhang and His Winning Collection And One Of His Designs At The Award Show (Dorchester Fashion Award)

This week up-and-coming designer, Huishan Zhang  was awarded the 2013 Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize. The designer fought off stiff competition, including Barbara Casasola, and had to woo the likes of Derek Blasberg and Stephen Jones, who were amongst the judging panel, to scoop the £25,000 prize.

The size of money awarded is a lifeline for fledgling fashion brands, as judge Derek Blasberg described, 'what I love about this award is both meeting fresh talent from around the world and perhaps changing the life of a designer. But it wasn't easy. We had the fortunate problem of being spoiled with good choices.’

This may not be the first time you have heard of the Huishan Zhang - his wares are already stocked at Browns and the designer regularly appears on lists of newcomers to watch out for. Just recently he has been scooped up by Barney’s in New York which will give the Central St Martins educated designer a real presence across the Atlantic, helping him build towards achieving a truly global brand. 

To celebrate his win we interviewed Zhang to give you an insight into the brand, how his time at Dior shaped the designer he is today whilst giving us exclusive access to his mood board from his Spring Summer 2014 collection …

Huishan Zhang's Mood Board and Experiments On The Stand For SS13 (Huishan Zhang)

GRAZIA: With this award, how would you like to build the brand from here? What is the next step?

HZ: The award encourages me to keep true to my dreams of creating beautiful clothes and celebrating craftsmanship, I want to keep moving forwards, expand my retail opportunities and to build the brand into something very special. And hopefully a studio outside my home!

GRAZIA: What advice did the judges give you?

HZ: The judges were very kind, I’m so looking forward to the mentoring part of the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize. They encouraged me to keep faith with what I am doing and what I believe in as a designer. Dorchester Collection and I share values of individuality, luxury, innovation and craftsmanship which the judges saw in my clothes, and they emboldened my convictions in these timeless values. 

GRAZIA: Talk us through your inspirations for SS14…

HZ: The Spring Summer 2014 collection was inspired by Man Ray and Madeleine Vionnet meets Chinese Mathematics. Man Ray’s photography really celebrates the female form and Vionnet’s technique’s of cutting fabric on the bias and smocking allowed clothes to move with the women’s body. The use of the smocking technique in the collection was also inspired and informed by the heritage of Chinese maths, the way patterns of interlocking triangles were used to solve equations. 

GRAZIA: How would you describe your signature style?

HZ: My signature style is a blending of my Chinese heritage and modern western elements, each season this combination evolves in a different way and takes me somewhere new. Fresh inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere so it’s about mixing these discoveries with my roots, with what I know and love. I love working with the Cheongsam - the traditional Chinese dress. I feel the cheongsam shape encompasses the Chinese spirit, the combination of the sensual and still being hidden. Each season it feels like there is an natural, innovative way to work with the shape.

GRAZIA: Who, celebrity wise, would you love to see wearing your brand?

HZ: It would be great to see Tilda Swinton or Jennifer Lawrence in Huishan Zhang.  I think Lupita Nyong’o, the new young actress in gorgeous. And of course The Duchess of Cambridge has great poise and is helping bring back an appreciation of elegant dressing.

Design Sketches For SS14 (Husihan Zhang)


GRAZIA: How did your time at Dior shape the designer you are today?

HZ: My time at Dior was a great experience, working with couture especially; it really encouraged my love of craftsmanship and luxury. Every experience shapes you as a designer.

GRAZIA: What has been your career highlight so far?

HZ: There have been so many great moments! Of course the awards and being recognised by the fashion industry is very flattering, but it’s seeing real women in my clothes that is really fantastic. It’s truly special.

GRAZIA: If you could swap places with any designer who would it be and why?

HZ: I wouldn’t swap places with anyone! As a designer you need to have faith in yourself and your own vision and not worry too much about what other people are doing. There are lots of designers and brands I respect, but I wouldn’t want to swap. Maybe I’d go back in time and work with Madame Vionnet, that would be so inspiring.

GRAZIA: You have just been picked up by Barney's in New York- how did that feel?

HZ: It felt great. Barney’s is such a fashion institution, it’s so lovely to have their support and I really look forward to working with them. I’m especially excited to be selling in Madison Avenue, Beverly Hills and online.


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