The adornments lining YVMIN's Beijing studio tell a lot about their work. An iridescent heart hangs on the wall alongside a set of plastic heads of Greek statues, and mannequins donning elaborately layered garb bring movement into austere forms of sculpture. Their workspace is located inside Biftpark, a platform for fashion design developed by the Beijing City Government and the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology as an incubator to foster the local creative industry.
Co-founders Sherry Zhang and Li Min met while studying at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Zhang is originally a jewelry designer from the frigid northeast of China, while Li is a fashion designer from the balmy remote southwest. After finding their common tastes and complimentary talents, they decided to launch their own fashion and jewelry brand.
Zhang and Li have a diverse range of inspirations for their first collaborative line. "Dreams and parallel worlds—like in a Dali’s paintings—really fascinate me," Zhang says, "I love borderlines, the edge between physical experience and desire."
The young designers also share a passion for extreme aesthetics and eroticism. They both love Yayoi Kusama’s enthusiasm for exaggeration and the kinky bondage photo by Nobuyoshi Araki. Taking a token from these renowned Japanese artists' penchant for the central role of the human body, YVMIN uses the body as a canvas, where inner projections can find a material frame. "That’s the reason," Li says, "why we often work and develop our ideas with sculptors and contemporary dancers—working with body lines, playing with materials and creating contrasts between structure and fluidity." Both Li and Zhang also love to play and experiment with several materials. "It’s important to have the possibility every once in a while to do something different, even outside the field of our collection," Li adds.
YVMIN is quickly achieving recognition outside of China, and Li is systematically working on the next ready-to-wear collection while Zhang's accessories, after hitting international catwalks with Xander Zhou last year, will be heading to London Fashion Week in January 2014.
Product and runway images courtesy of YVMIN, studio shots by Alessandro De Toni