MY PERSONAL JOURNEY
Ten years ago, I left my life as a downtown New York fashion designer and moved to a remote mountain village in Guizhou: China’s poorest province. I had fallen in love with the elaborate hand-embroidered Miao traditional costumes exhibited in museums around the world, and so I set about a quest to find the grandmothers who made them in the villages.
But when I arrived, I was told their craftsmanship would disappear in the next 5 to 10 years because the next generation was not picking it up. I could not fathom seeing these textiles disappear, so I began to dream about ways to keep their traditional craft alive. My plan was to turn their traditional fabrics into modern silhouettes for the international market – to bring jobs to these rural villages and inspire the younger generation to continue the craft.
While my original intention was to help the villagers, I soon realized that they were actually helping me.
Growing up as a first-generation Chinese-American to immigrant parents in Indiana, I was unfamiliar with the homeland of my parents and could barely understand Chinese. I knew very little of my family history and was not spiritual at all.
But once I set foot in China, unexplainable signs and synchronicities began happening. Wherever I went, I felt the mysterious presence of invisible forces accompanying and guiding me. They would enter my dreams and meditations to share the wisdom of how to work with the village artisans. This was especially important since I was alone in the villages and could not speak the language. (It would take me another 2 years to become fluent in Chinese.)
Recently, my mother shared with me the biographies of my ancestors for the first time, and I realized they were the wise voices guiding me in China.
These great-grandparents include a philosopher/teacher in a rural village, a silk-weaver and medicinal plant dyer in the countryside, a vegetarian who lived with nuns in mountain temples, and a craftsman-merchant of artisan furniture in the big city. I was none of these identities when I first began this collection; yet somehow today, these ancestral threads are all a part of me.
This collection is dedicated to these ancestors who guided me and showed me how magical and miraculous life can be when one follows her heart.
- Angel Chang