By Anna Vo
Imagine yourself in a dark room. You’re alone, and the night that surrounds you. While many in this situation might let fear consume them, for B.F.A. fashion design student Dandan Huang, the darkness is a source of comfort.
Inspired by endless nights of sleepwalking, Huang’s collaborative collection with B.F.A. costume designer Patrick Wang brings together the beauty and fear of dancing in the dark. It tells the story of a black shadow guiding her—fragile, hidden, but watching over her like a protector.
After discovering that anger and anxiety can manifest through episodes of sleepwalking, the Academy of Art University School of Fashion student used upcycled garbage bags throughout her pieces to symbolize the emotional trash we carry on a daily basis. “We carry these emotional burdens all the time,” Huang shared. “Why do we hold on and refuse to let go of emotional baggage?” The ragged, torn, and patched plastic bags become part of an unknown figure, adopting the ambiguous persona and acting as the soul of this mystical creature. The figures Huang imagined have frail legs, lanky arms, obscure postures, and faces concealed by headwear garments. They’re mystical; balanced between real life and fantasy.
Huang used the forms and lines of mathematical graphs as a pattern to represent that one of her biggest anxieties comes from studying math. Her clothes are voluminous—overwhelming in physical form and exaggerating reality. Solid is woven with mesh, layered with the torn plastic bags, and distorted into non-recognizable shapes. She favors asymmetric proportions and silhouette distortion, standing a little off-balance to best recollect her old memories of being in the dark, and the shapes recall the imagery of mosquito nets protecting you from nightmares while you’re sleeping.
That’s not to say it’s all bleak. Huang opposes the fear with pops of pink to infuse bright and soft tones to an otherwise grim color palette. In accepting the fear and admitting to a burdened past, this collection signifies an internal transformation, like a butterfly after metamorphosis.