Chao Zhang: ‘I oppose the shackles of traditional ideas’

Our Next Generation 2022 showcase shines a light on 22 outstanding graduates from around the globe, in seven creative fields. Here, we profile fashion graduate Chao Zhang, from ESMOD, Paris

Model wears dress by Chao Zhang
All clothing by Chao Zhang. Fashion: Brillant Nyansago 
(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)

‘Self-confidence and beauty are irreplaceable,’ says Chao Zhang. The Chinese designer, who moved to France to study at ESMOD in Paris, has created a graduate collection rich in juxtapositions, that fuses draped volumes with tailoring, traditional fabrics with free, tactile weaving. 

Jackets wrap fluidly around the body, dresses drape and are accented with sensual cut-outs. Woven elements – which ‘break the limitations and rules of weaving’ – are vibrant in firework hues, such as yellows and reds, and crafted into oversized sweaters that stream with threads, and long skirts with panels rich in varying textures.

‘I want to express that each line is a separate individual,’ Zhang says. Her collection also features a nod to classical suiting fabrics – the pinstripes of Wall Street and Savile Row, traditional fabrics associated with menswear, re-cut and reconstructed. 

Introducing Chao Zhang

Model wears coat by Chao Zhang

Coat, by Chao Zhang. Boots, by Miista

(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)

‘Most of my design structure is irregular,’ Zhang adds of an offering which revels in asymmetry. A blouse is one-shouldered, a jacket is cut off-centre. ‘I combine menswear elements with women’s elements.’ The designer's creations have socio-political importance, alluding to gender inequality. ‘The pieces are about women's independence.’ 

Dream collaborator: Dior

Wallpaper* Next Generation 2022

More young talents to watch – dubbed ‘22 rising stars for 2022’ and from creative fields spanning design, jewellery, transport, architecture, photography, fashion, and visual communication – can be discovered in the January 2022 Next Generation issue of Wallpaper*, and in this ongoing series at 


Our Next Generation showcase of outstanding new talents appears in the January 2022 issue of Wallpaper* (W*273). Subscribe today!

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