Qixin Zhang is the fashion designer behind brand r.l.e. Her brand, founded in 2021, comprises of womenswear ready-to-wear, bags and accessories and a soon to be sister brand for pets r.l.e pets.
Designer Qixin Zhang
Qixin's recently presented her latest collection 'Hug' for AW23 at London Fashion Week on Monday 20th February at the White Loft in a former paper factory in Old Street. The venue was transformed into an ethereal landscape with flowers and enchanting models wearing fine knit cashmeres and ruffled dresses. A captivating celebration of mother nature in garment form.
Before I go onto the new collection, I would like to share a bit more about designer Qixin Zhang. Originally from China, Qixin dreamt of being a fashion designer from an early age and her upbringing encouraged creative expression and a love of culture and spirituality. Qixin developed a deep connection with nature and like a true romantic, she believes in a deep soul connection with the natural environment around us.
After falling in love with the UK on an exchange program whilst at school, she returned to the UK to complete her A-levels in Oxford. In order to pursue fashion design at University, she completed her foundation course at UAL (University of the Arts London) and went on to achieve first class honours at London College of Fashion. Although her experience at LCF was not what she expected, it was a rich experience which taught her a lot about how to adapt her imaginative eye for design with a more pragmatic approach.
Qixin Zhang's 2021 graduate collection 'Your Floral Inner Self'
Sustainability has always been a mission for Qixin and a pillar of her brand; a non negotiable, and she means sustainability in the true sense of the word. Using natural materials in fashion is no longer enough, she is fully aware and takes responsibility for the waste in her production and recycles pattern paper into brand labels and excess fabric become 3D yarns for creative projects and accessories. Sustainability is truly a way of life for Qixin and one she will not compromise on.
Qixin took her love of flowers to the next level and completed a floristry course at McQueens Flower School in London. Flowers were a central part of her graduate collection in 2021 ‘Your floral inner self’ and they have continued to be in her SS23 and AW23 collections.
About her 2021 collection she says, 'I can feel the flowers flowing in my blood. I believe matchless flowers (true selves) are growing inside our inner world, they might be crazy and shouting, dense and blooming, scarce and falling, but we are born as flowers and becoming it.'
Her talent was on display at her AW23 presentation last week as she dressed the space with hanging flowers to transport us into a world of ethereal, natural beauty.
Photos Harriet Smith
The designer used soft yellows, frosty blues, ice white and blush pinks as her colour palette. Fine knits formed a central part of the collection from fine cashmere crocheted dresses with scalloped edges to casual but chic ruffled woollen coords'. Qixin hopes to convey a sense of security within the collection and by enveloping the r.l.e girl in softness, the brand continues to celebrate their most prominent muse within their AW23 collection - the authentic beauty of nature. The intricate details found in flowers, butterflies, and branches inspire the knitted elements of the design.
During the 45 minute presentation, the models moved effortlessly through the enchanting landscape in floral euphoria like fairies captivated by the coveted scent of a sweet perfume. The gentle pace of the presentation gave the guests a chance to really study the collection in detail and notice the quality of the production and the beautiful hair by Narad Kutuwaroo and makeup by lead makeup artist Michelle Webb.
The r.l.e SS23 collection is available to pre-order via the website rlehouse.com and the AW23 collection will be available in a few months (please confirm). Qixin will also be launching a petware brand called r.l.e Pet soon. To stay up to date, follow @r.l.eofficial and designer Qixin Zhang on instagram for the latest news and releases.
photos Harriet Smith