Moon Chang is a storyteller whose medium of choice is clothing. Her new lifestyle brand, VENUS IN BLACK, inspired by her french bulldog, tells a story of duality – life and death, beauty and ugliness, fantasy and reality. She debuted the brand’s first collection, “Venus Garden,” at New York Fashion Week earlier this year. The Untitled Magazine caught up with her for an exclusive interview about her creative process, inspirations for her collection, and experiences in the fashion world.
Can you speak to your creative process for this collection? Does it differ from how you usually work?
Usually, I believe there is power in a human’s story. I am always inspired by personal stories, like PTSD, and stretch this to social movement to validify. I deal with the serious issues and circumstances through my designs and interpret them in visual and wearable fashion. For my second brand, VENUS IN BLACK, I wish to illustrate the feeling of romance and functionality in the collection from research to making process. It is a capsule and wardrobe version of my personal brand, Moon Chang, so that it still keeps the aesthetic and techniques but in more comfortable ways. VENUS IN BLACK’s fitting process was very different. Instead of the model standing and walking in the studio, we really went outside to walk a dog to check the possibility and activity of the garments.
VENUS IN BLACK was inspired by your french bulldog, Venus. In what ways do you feel your muse, or any other sources of inspiration, shine through in your designs?
VENUS IN BLACK is born with a love of my dog, Venus. Venus is mostly received as the goddess of beauty, however, Venus is my muse, black french bulldog. I reinterpret Venus as the symbol of dualism, which is also related to my design aesthetic and philosophy. VENUS IN BLACK is inspired by the dog and fashion culture in New York City, which is boundless and full of freedom. Venus is better to illustrate the contrast of the beauty and the beast, the light of purity and the darkness of the shadow, and the fantasy and the reality. This dual aesthetic evolves into the imaginary and dark fairytale storyline of the brand. I introduce pet fashion as well, which can mix and match with humans, including a t-shirt, a dog collar, a poo bag, and light baby bags for pet owners. I designed them based on my experience of being a dog mom. I highlight the functionality through washable fabrics and special finishes to reduce the discomfort for pets and pet owners as well.
Black and pink are the iconic colors of this brand, why and how did you decide to feature these colors so prominently and how do they contribute to the thesis of your work?
The color “black” is considered as “death.” However, I think it is a forever color, and also the pink which represents youth and love, but this also can be a death. Breaking the original meanings of each color and embedding the new perspective is my goal of the design. Colors go through floral such as pastel pink, peach to dark colors such as black, which translates to the living flowers becoming dead. However, they never become dead or ugly. Even though they lost their original essence of beauty, they are still beautiful. I wish to apply that concept by exclusively using black and pink.
Why did you choose the motif of “gardening” to represent your first collection in this brand?
The title of the first Fall/Winter 2021 collection of VENUS IN BLACK is “Venus Garden,” the place used to grow new lives. I chose the motif of gardening because the garden is the place where love, dreams, and imagination come true. The main color of this collection is black, which is a signature color of the brand, but also inspired by the process of gardening. One of the most important processes is “burning,” which alters the nutrient cycles by adding black carbon to the soils. By using black as a “life,” I wish my new brand to be a garden, which is eternal, beautiful, and meaningful in the fashion industry. Moreover, by adding the personal and lovely interpretation of “Venus Garden,” it is the place where our french bulldog, Venus, loves to enjoy the scents of flowers, herbs, and vegetables. The concept of gardening also reflects on the silhouette and style. The garden wears like an apron – workwear and gardening gloves are reinterpreted by the aesthetic focus on the couture in beautiful, but ugly ways.
You have won many prestigious design competitions. What do you feel makes your designs stand out from the crowd so much?
Firstly, I feel very thankful to be given opportunities to win many prestigious competitions. I wish to become a fashion designer who creates art, culture, history, and a world of my own through clothes. My remarkable design aesthetic focuses on the dichotomy between beauty and ugliness. Techniques and quality would be my visual and functional strengths, and in behind, the storytelling through fashion can impress people and the fashion industry as well. I think these advantages lead me to stand out from the crowd.
You utilize a wide variety of materials in your designs. How do you decide which materials to use for a particular piece and what is the significance of that decision?
VENUS IN BLACK reinterprets the traditional couture and millinery techniques into the modern ways, so I love to collaborate the old and traditional fabrics with new and technical fabrics. The traditional millinery and couture techniques are embedded with velvet, silk, satin, organza, and fallie, and as a contrast, I combine with functional materials, like recycled plastic nylon, which can do waterproof, and heat sealed by recycled rubbers. I love the unexpected collaboration to create the new aesthetics and style.
Sustainability in fashion is both a rising trend and environmental necessity. Why did you decide to pursue a sustainable approach and how did that decision affect the design and outcome of your pieces?
While studying my MFA degree at [Fashion Institute of Technology], I had a chance to see the video about animal fur productions for the research. I was too shocked by the brutal and painful scenery of animal fur production. I couldn’t believe we have to sacrifice the life and energy to come up with one piece of garments, also not only for animals, but also for humans, they are unintendedly exposed to the toxic environment for the sake. That was the moment, I strongly felt what we design, make, and wear should be safe and meaningful. VENUS IN BLACK will try the best to elevate the environmental friendly lifestyle for human and animal, and to abandon toxic and non recycled materials, animal leather, and furs. I have developed our own special fabrications which can substitute leather and fur, and they are truly made out of recycled, collected, or raw natural materials.
What was your experience debuting your collection at New York Fashion Week (NYFW)?
Debuting my brand to NYFW was one of the biggest experiences. I was overwhelmed by the size of the show. It was my first time receiving massive attention from unlimited numbers of people. I feel so thankful and impressed by the energy and love from many people toward fashion, as well as to my brand. After the show, I have decided to be more responsible for creativity and quality, and keep challenging the new taste and aesthetic to make people feel new experiences, and breeze with new airs from my design.
What can we expect from you in the years to come?
Moon Chang and VENUS IN BLACK will keep challenging on the boundless change and creativity with ownership. Specifically, from Moon Chang, the collection will be designed based on my psychology, philosophy, and aesthetic. VENUS IN BLACK will bring the concept of Moon Chang, but full of love and energy from the lifestyle of human and animal by embracing art and fashion. Also, we have many upcoming events and exhibitions for people who love both fashion and pets. I hope people come to rest and enjoy the new artistic approach with us.