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Meet Angel Chen, the East-Meets-West Designer with a Penchant for Colorful Streetwear

There's a reason why this Shanghai-based creative is a cult favorite fashion designer both in her native China and beyond.
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Angel Chen is a cool and colorful designer on the rise. Known for her thoughtful fusion of Eastern and Western styles and her street-meets-elegance approach, Chen has created custom garments for trendsetters like Bella Hadid and Charli XCX. However, Angel Chen's goal is not to set trends, but rather to create carefully crafted and long-lasting garments that the wearer can cherish for years to come. 

You may recognize Chen from the Alexa Chung and Tan France-hosted Netflix series Next In Fashion, where her deep connection to her upbringing in China and her eye for color flourished. Chen also dropped a vibrant capsule collection of eight sneakers with Adidas Originals this past May. 

Angel Chen was a natural fit for L'Officiel's 'Styled to a T' series, in which we asked wildly talented up-and-coming fashion designers from around the globe to interpret the timeless collections from the storied American jeweler Tiffany & Co. alongside their own creations. 

In addition to Christopher John Rogers and Antonin Tron of Atlein, Angel Chen merges the classic beauty of Tiffany jewelry with her own unique perspective on style, heritage, and emotional connection. Chen spoke with film director Lisa Immordino Vreeland about how she finds her inspiration and the ways in which sentimentality plays a large role in her work. 

Lisa Immordino Vreeland: When you are creating a collection, what are some of the most important elements that you keep in mind?

Angel Chen: When I'm creating a collection, the first element I keep in mind is color. I want to make sure the collection is full of color, because my family background is in painting and my dad is kind of a color engineer, and he has been sitting in a lab and discovering color his whole life, so I want to keep the color DNA in my collection. The second is having a mix between Eastern and Western culture. I always want to bring traditional Chinese elements to a more contemporary aesthetic. The third is creating a collection that is somewhat genderless and more contemporary in that way, without boundaries between country, age, and gender. 

LIV: Craftsmanship is a facet of your work that is very important to you. Can you tell us about that?

AC: I always spend a lot of time on different traditional techniques including hand embroidery, hand-screened prints, lots of beautiful stitching, even some weaving, and Jakarta brocades. That takes a lot of manpower and a lot goes into it. I think craftsmanship is about heritage, history, life, and culture.

Anything that is done through mass production—I'm not saying it's wrong or it's bad, but there is a lack of spirit. The product that you create with lots of care and lots of thought and lots of craftsmanship will always last longer and create a more emotional connection.

LIV: How did your family inspire you?

AC: I think my drawing was inspired by my dad. He was always working with color and different materials and textiles, and I always have tons of inspiration come from seeing his work.

My mom is very stylish. When I was young, I would always hide in her closet and steal her beautiful vintage scarf and wrap it around my body, which I guess you could say was my first creation.

And my grandma is very kind and good at lots of techniques, especially sewing and crochet and knitting. She's such a fascinating lady. She taught me how to sew my first pair of trousers by cutting off a piece of a curtain. 

When I design or when I draw, I always think about my family. They give me so much inspiration, and they kind of taught me all the way through. 

LIV: How closely interlinked do you feel jewelry is to emotion and sentimentally?

AC: I think jewelry has spirit. It might be strange to say that, but I do think it has spirit because it can be something that lives with you. There are some kinds of jewelry you really cannot take off. That jewelry might even protect you. That's my spiritual thinking. Lots of old Chinese people think jewelry can protect you from harm or that some jewelry can bring you luck. Some jewelry can bring you wealth, and some jewelry can bring you love or health or happiness.

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