By: Jaymee Salisi, Peak Associate
Alex S. Yu’s designs captivated the audience at this year’s Vancouver Fashion Week. With flowy silhouettes, crafted with colours and fabrics highlighting femininity, his work conveyed an aura of whimsy with every step down the runway.
Fashion design was not always what Yu intended as a career path. After graduating from high school, he attended SFU to study computer science. However, the idea of pursuing fashion stayed in the back of his mind, so he decided to sign up for a sewing introduction course at the Blanche Macdonald Centre. He eventually shifted his studies away from computer science and towards fashion full-time.
After receiving a graduate degree in womenswear at the London College of Fashion, he went on to win a design competition. This awarded him the opportunity to show his very first collection at Vancouver Fashion Week in 2014.
Inspired by Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, Yu’s new unisex collection, Capsule 001, invites us to escape our everyday lives and enter a world full of fantasy and adventure.
His designs are reminiscent of the movie characters’ earth-toned scout outfits with pops of bright orange, pink, and purple. The statement colours in his collection symbolize his brand’s signature elements: joy and hope.
“I want people [ . . . ] to feel a little bit happier when they put my clothing on,” Yu shared in an interview with The Peak.
He added, “Capsule 001 is sort of like a rebrand and rebirth.” A year and a half hiatus due to COVID-19 gave Yu time to think more about his brand and what he wanted it to represent. Staying home for longer periods of time prompted him to incorporate better functionality and wearability into his pieces.
We see these new elements manifested in Capsule 001’s unrestricting pieces, which effortlessly drape over the models’ bodies.
Of all the complex pieces that graced the runway, I found myself drawn to a bright pink babydoll dress layered over a white turtleneck and paired with a matching pink bucket hat. Oversized puff sleeves and a loose-fitting waistline made this candy-coloured dress the epitome of playfulness. This theme was driven home by the pronounced bubbly texture of the dress and hat. Layering such flowy silhouettes with lively patterns brought together the brand’s identifying components of femininity and joy.
In an industry dominated by white European designers, Yu explained it was important for the brand to be his name because it represents his identity and culture.
“I think there’s no better way than to use my last name, but I choose to use my English [first] name instead of my Mandarin name. It’s because I grew up here in Vancouver, so I wanted to have the name that has both of my cultures,” he said.
Yu’s designs have been featured in celebrated fashion publications, including Vogue UK, Vogue Italia, i-D, and GQ. He has also shown his collections at the London, Tokyo, and Toronto Fashion Weeks.
Yu currently teaches three courses at Blanche Macdonald as he works on his brand’s Capsule 002 collection. He shared that the new collection will take a similar direction from the last, but with different inspiration and new elements.
Learn more about Alex S. Yu’s work on his website.