Growing up in London, designer Celine Kwan remembers her mother always looking fabulous no matter where they went. “My mother’s my muse. She’s a fashion icon to me,” Kwan tells Vogue. “She’s really glamorous. She will not step out of the house without her red lipstick, and always has to have her whole look set – with the matching handbag.” It’s one of her earliest memories that got Kwan interested in fashion, and today, the ethos behind her namesake brand hasn’t changed much. Kwan’s energetic clothes aim to infuse a dash of irreverent style into the everyday, just like her mother has always done.
Kwan moved to London from Hong Kong when she was 12, and graduated with a degree in fashion design and print from Central Saint Martins just last year. “There was a focus on textile-making, and working with different colours, textures, and prints,” she says. Her graduate collection, titled a “living room utopia”, experimented with turning living room objects into clothing. It resulted in kitschy pieces such as her vase boots, and dramatic pillow-like skirts. “There were a lot of things that I wanted to share through my collection, it was almost like a sense of escape,” says Kwan. “I wanted to make clothes that make people happy. That’s my main thing – I just want to put a smile on someone’s face.”
Her first post-school collection, shown during Paris Fashion Week autumn/winter 2022, served as a continuation of this joyful approach to fashion. Her clothes are certainly not for wallflowers; Kwan still focuses on bright colours and exaggerated silhouettes. For this collection, she looked again to the living room for inspiration, this time referencing retro furniture designs. “I was looking a lot at ’60s furniture and product designers,” she says. “I’m always inspired by Verner Panton and Joe [Cesare] Colombo. The beautiful shapes, boldness, and material progression that was pushed in the ’60s really inspired my collection.”
In the line you’ll find sleeveless shift dresses printed with dramatic florals, and two-piece sets including a psychedelic skirt and jacket. For Kwan, it was important to have a range in the line – from more refined pieces, like her pink skirt suit, to the extremely bold, like her theatrical flower headpieces. “I wanted to create [pieces] that a mother and daughter could wear,” she says. There’s also technical innovation in the mix: A top and bottom set is covered in tiles that were 3-D printed. “3-D printing is one of the most wasteless techniques,” says Kwan. “The plastic is made out of corn, and you can reuse it.” Some of the floral appliqués in the collection were also made using the futuristic production method.
As the line continues to progress, Kwan wants to continue doing even bigger silhouettes, experiment with collaborations, and further her technical innovations. “I really want to push the boundaries of clothing,” says Kwan. With celebrities like Lizzo having already worn her groovy, trippy dresses, she also has her sights set on dressing more stars. “I hope I can do Doja Cat or Dua Lipa one day,” she says. Above all, though, she wants to make whatever client she’s dressing experience unfiltered joy through style. “In fashion, there’s a lot of competitiveness and seriousness,” says Kwan. “I just want to have fun with it!”