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Student Designers Create… WDesigns: The San Francisco Runway Premiere of the Venus Collection

An elegant blend of both Grecian and Martian elements, the Venus collection by WDesigns made a stunning runway premiere at Roe, one of San Francisco’s trendiest lounges, on Friday January 22, 2010. Wayne Hwang, a Stanford alumnus and previous DKNY model, designed the collection and coordinated the runway premiere with his business partner Thom Scher. The Venus collection featured twenty-five ready-to-wear outfits; the collection was defined by its audacious use of bright and metallic colors and its incorporation of couture elements, such as high collars or winged dresses. The Venus runway premiere was followed by a fabulous after-party at Vessel Nightclub where models, stylists, and guests sipped champagne and discussed the collection.

Wayne & Thom met while working together for Stanford’s Charity Fashion Show and the two are already leaders in the San Francisco fashion community as WDesigns has attracted press from the Stanford Daily, San Jose Fashion Week, San Jose Mercury News and more. WDesigns initially established its presence in California at the 2009 Stanford Charity Fashion Show, where WDesigns debuted the Water collection. The Water collection is much less ready-to-wear in comparison to Venus, yet the Water garments still maintain the WDesigns philosophy of “rediscovering the glamour of feminine beauty… [through] the exquisiteness of a look, the grace of a full length gown, [and] the magnetism of a corset.” I had the pleasure of meeting both Wayne and Thom backstage during the Venus runway premiere. Although Wayne and Thom were frantically escorting guests, adjusting models’ makeup, and taking care of other logistics for the event, they both took some time to answer some questions for Her Campus readers and aspiring designers and event producers in the fashion industry. Wayne Hwang (Designer)

Her Campus: When did you first discover your interest in fashion & design?

Wayne Hwang: When I was 16, I started modeling for DKNY. At the time, I thought it was the best thing in the world to be able to model. However, as I began to do more runway shows, I became increasingly attracted to the behind-the-scenes work that created and developed the innovative fashions that I was given the opportunity to model.

HC: Please describe the vision and history of WDesigns.

WH: Honestly, I never really thought that WDesigns would ever become its own label. For the past 5-6 years, I had jokingly called anything remotely artistic that I created a “WDesigns” product. However, after I created my first haute couture collection almost a year ago, I realized the potential impact WDesigns could have on the industry. Long gone is the era of original couture from the early 20th century, the focus of WDesigns is to re-invent the ideas of classic feminine beauty, and we do so by borrowing elements of dramatic couture.

HC: What was your inspiration for the Venus collection?

WH: In my latest runway collection, Venus, I’m translating my recent experiences as a Stanford graduate into a clothing line. In what I’ve been calling the past seven months as my “gap” year, I’ve been conflicted with several contrasting career choices. Thus, I created “Venus” as a clothing line to contrast both the classical feminine beauty of the Greek goddess of Love and the modern, rock-chic appeal associated with the planet Venus. It is a blend of love and technology and how it parallels my life in the past year.

HC: What advice do you have for young designers looking to gain exposure?

WH: Get formal training. Obtain legitimate press. Network like crazy. Oh, and have lots and lots of capital. Now wouldn’t it be nice if we all had that at our fingertips?

HC: When will you debut your next collection?

WH: At this point it is unclear. This collection will likely guide what I do next, and I’m anxious to see what that is.

HC: How do you envision the future of WDesigns in five years?

WH: Again, I’m not 100% positive about anything. What I can say is that if I’m happy, then WDesigns is happy. Also, the idea of WDesigns isn’t exactly limited to a time. WDesigns is about allowing a woman to feel like a woman, and be confident in that feeling. In five years I think that goal will have remained.

HC: How does working in fashion in San Francisco different than it might be in other cities?

WH: SF is more arts-focused. NYC & LA are more industry-focused. I mean, not to be crass, but let’s be real: the industry is exclusive and the best thing you can do as a designer is to get yourself to a place where that industry is.

HC: What does it mean for a girl to be attractive, fun and confident?

WH: Wearing WDesigns. More seriously, it’s about an attitude. If you can know yourself, and own yourself, then you are attractive, fun and confident. It is about finding yourself, and never letting anyone else tell you who you are. You define yourself. Make your own attractive. Be your own fun. Find your own confidence. Thom Scher (Business Partner/ Event Producer)

HC: How did you become a leader in the SF fashion community?

Thom Scher: To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how I got involved so much in the SF community. I guess I like to think of myself as more of an innovator, and a facet of the industry—we are all leaders—we all push each other to do more, and to make the industry stronger. I personally got started through my work with Charity Fashion Show, my work with WDesigns, and my overarching presence at industry events. The industry is in a huge state of growth right now, which certainly helps. CFS has launched partnerships with a number of Bay Area leaders, and as a result I’ve really increased my SF involvement.

HC: How did you become involved with WDesigns?

TS: WDesigns came about through my involvement with Wayne Hwang, the designer. We met through mutual friends, and then worked in Charity Fashion Show together. Wayne really started working on the development of his personal line, and I knew I had to be a part of it. He is such a rising star, and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to work with him as he has started working on his solo career.

HC: What preparation went into the premiere of the Venus collection?

TS: Venus has been a long process. Obviously, Wayne has worked really hard on the collection. On top of that, I was directly involved in guest list development, venue logistics, after party logistics, model casting, artistic development, press relations etc. Fashion shows are beasts of production, but I’ve loved every second of it.

HC: What is your favorite piece from the Venus collection?

TS: The second to last piece in the collection is a red evening gown that was one of the first completed pieces. I really watched that gown come together from start to finish, and I just love the way it flatters a figure as well as the eye. The gown, titled Milos (see picture), was the first image from the collection as it was featured on the invitation.

HC: Do you have any other exciting plans for 2010?

TS: We’ll have to see. Obviously, Charity Fashion Show 2010 (05.15.10) promises to be huge—and as the head of that it sits hugely on my mind. I’m also producing the US premiere of Dutch designer Tosca Otten in May, and hope to really expand the amount of work I’m doing in the industry… maybe even more work with Her Campus!

Sources Wayne Hwang, Designer at WDesigns Thom Scher, Event Producer at WDesigns http://www.wdesignsfashion.com/ http://www.roe-sf.com/ http://www.vesselsf.com/ http://charityfashionshow.org/

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