24 Questions with Man Chien

Abstract inspiration


By Wei Yeen Loh

24 Questions with Man Chien

We had a chat with the award-winning Seremban-based designer who continues to inspire us to be imaginative and expressive with her unique outlook in life, art and the fashion industry.

1. What was your main inspiration/story for your latest collection?

The latest collection is inspired by Plato’s Allegory of The Cave. It discusses mind-manipulation, ­cover-up of truths, and docility.

2. Do explain to us the creative process behind the oil ­paintstroke­-like textures on some your designs.

The strokes are a form of emotional expression through interpreting the said inspiration. They come in a series of abstract paintings depicting human body parts which have been deemed revealing in public. They are portraits of suppressed freedom.

3. Was there a reason behind using wood as the main medium for the bags of your collection?

We named the bag collection as Charpente Collection. Charpente means “structure” in French. It is inspired by stretched canvases for paintings. I’ve always been interested in carpentry, thus exploring the possibilities of utilizing woods in the collection.

4. How do you respond to criticism?

Criticism is a two-way study between a criticizer and one being criticized. It could well be a blissful reminder to events that I’ve neglected, or as a perspective study of how my works could result in arranged perception and how well it is accepted by diversified backgrounds and personalities.

5. What would you say is a constant in your life and/or designs?

Change. That’s what drives us to create and reconstruct.

6. You come from an art­-based background; how and why did you decide on pursuing fashion design?

I was in product/industrial design before enrolling into fashion design. Fashion is one of my many interests and for the time being, this happens to be what I’ve chose to work with to express my thoughts.

7. Favourite medium to work with?


8. Favourite or go-­to fabrics in your collection?

The recurrent sheer, pure silk fabric in this collection is my latest favourite. It is light, breathable, and holds structure well.

9. Describe your fashion design aesthetic or philosophy in three words.

Honest, emotional, characteristic.

10. Who do you admire the most and look up to as an inspiration? Why?

Artists David Lynch and Marina Abramovic. They both share a common act of being honest to self-emotion, and a clear conscience in making the world a better place through art.

11. What type of setbacks were present along your creative journey, from then until now?

I’ve been contemplating between moving to KL or to stay put at my current base in this quiet town (Seremban). It would be easier for recruitment if I were to be based in KL—extra pairs of hands will allow a smoother execution of production. But at the same time the undisturbed town I am currently residing at allows an ease of mind for creativity.

12. Something you absolutely cannot live without?


13. How do you constantly find inspiration for your work?

Keep an open mind and heart!

14. What are you currently obsessed with?

David Lynch’s everything.

15. How was your experience working in Singapore upon graduating? How was that any different that being currently stationed in Malaysia?

In both countries, individuals I’ve worked with thus far have equal competitive drives and great passions. Differences lie within the governing structure that affects public services, safety levels and such. I believe we are all urging for more efficiency and transparency here.

16. Are you planning to have your designs available here in Malaysia, other than an online store in Singapore?

Yes, Malaysia is my homeland and I’d like my works to be available here.

17. Are your designs all made locally? Where do you source your materials and fabrics from?

The pieces are made in Malaysia but we source materials and fabrics from Asia and Europe to acquire the most affordable and best quality.

18. How would you describe the ManChien woman?

Imaginative, driven, expressive.

19. Will there ever be a ManChien menswear line? What would it look like?

It would be interesting to see a unisex line, let’s keep us all wondering until it happens!

20. How would you describe your own style?


21. First place of interest on your must-­travel-­to list now?

Amazon Rainforest in Peru.

22. First fashion item you splurged a lot of money on?

A pair of black, lace­-up rocking horse shoes.

23. First fashion item you ever made?

A pure white, cotton ­lace-­trimmed Lolita head gear!

24. What can we expect from your label in the near future?

We will continue to emphasise on the promotion of thoughts worthy of conception, as well as accentuating human-touch craftsmanship in the works.

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