Beijing Huijia Private School 北京私立汇佳学校

Graduates |Tear off the label, be yourself - Parsons Girl Zhou Yishuang

Time:2019-07-30 17:11:16 Views:177


For me, clothing is not something that dresses me up, it’s part of me, my language, personality, attitude, and what I want to say to the world.

-- Zhou Yishuang  


‘Rebel’, ‘maverick’, ‘opinionated’ was the impression I had on the first sight of Zhou Yishuang.

Indeed, despite the fact that she was wearing school uniform, her hairstyle, and T-shirt showed clearly that she is a full ‘punk’ girl. 

However after a long conversation, I found out that this girl was by no means what she appeared to be. She is independent, passionate and a resilient dream chaser. Perhaps just like me, many people around her would label her inappropriately judging her look.  

After all, this so-called ‘rebel’ girl is now in the fashion design department of Parsons, the No.1 university of its kind in the United States. At the same time, she also received offers from several other top art colleges, including the Pratt Institute of Art, SCAD, and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.


Nothing comes simply.   

Parsons School of Design

Founded in 1896, Parsons School of Design is a world-renowned design institute and the most famous fashion design school in the United States.

According to the 2015 QS World University Rankings, Parsons School of Design is the second best art and design institute in the world and the top one in the United States. The school has many prominent alumni who are now leaders of the American fashion industry, including Marc Jacobs who made LV clothes design famous, Anna Sui, Mengdi Wu, Alexander Wang, Jason WuYohji YamamotoDonna KaranRichard Chai, Narciso Rodriguez, Derek Lam, Doo Ri, Prabal Gurung, Thakoon, Aimee Kestenberg, Reed Krakoff, the chief designer of COACH and Tom Ford, the former chief designer of Gucci.

1 The Indissoluble Bond with Clothes


‘The first time I went into a garment workshop was probably when I was in my mum’s tummy…’ 

Zhou’s childhood, as recalled by her, was impossible to be separated from the fashion industry. As both of her parents are engaged in the garment industry, Zhou grew up in the garment workshop and was deeply influenced by what she saw and heard. With a natural affinity for clothing, sewing machines, fabrics, scissors and rulers were all like old friends to her.

Although it was not until the 1st Grade of senior high school when she received her first sewing machine from her mum as a gift and made her very first piece of clothing, she had been showing great interest in painting since earlier, especially in drawing all sorts of clothes. 

This kid only followed her own unrestricted ideas by drawing things that she thought beautiful and never liked being taught step by step. 

‘My favorite thing to do when I was little was drawing pictures while watching TV. Every time when I saw pretty clothes worn by some TV characters, I would draw them. They could be pretty tops or dresses and I never got tired of it…’  

Even when she read picture books, her focus was also on the clothes worn by the characters. She started from copying and later on, it would only take her a few glances before she could draw the almost exactly same clothes. 

If we consider that Zhou’s family environment offered her the inherent curiosity and passion towards fashion design, support from the school then would be another helping hand that pushed her forward towards her dream.

Zhou Yishuang joined Huijia when she was 7 years old.  

Even though Zhou’s parents could clearly see then the great passion this girl had towards painting, they also knew that she would never like being restrained. They worried about whether their daughter, a girl grew who up in an ‘organic’ way, could continue to grow happily here.

To their great relief, Zhou had a great time in Huijia. What surprised them even more was that one day, when Zhou was in Grade 3, she told the parents that she decided to become a fashion designer in the future.

‘At the time, there was a wall in the primary school building where many important qualities representing different professionals were carved. A word among them caught my attention, ‘FASHION’. I can’t remember how many times I passed in front of that wall before I learnt that word, but the moment when I learnt it during my English class, I suddenly realized that the word belongs to me and when I grow up I want to be a fashion designer.’  

2 Tear off the label and chase the dream


Zhou admitted that, as she was used to growing up in an ‘organic’ way, the reason why she was able to persist in drawing was because of the teachers’ constant support.   

Zhou joined the primary school oil painting club when she was in the 3rd Grade.  After mastering the very basic skills, her ‘restless’ side started to show again as most of the time, she preferred to draw freely rather than following her teacher’s assignment and instruction.

Zhou’s painting teacher gave her plenty of tolerance and support in this regard, not only allowing her to create according to her own wishes and imagination, but also permitting her to finish some of the work on the floor as she wished. 

‘It is probably because of this highly inclusive environment that my initial passion towards drawing was able to be preserved.’ 

Zhou stayed in this much-loved oil painting club for three years in a row. 

After entering junior high school, Zhou learnt sketching and made quick improvement thanks to her solid foundation in drawing.  Meanwhile the skills she learnt through sketching including the control of shape, contour and proportion, also laid the foundation for fashion effect sketches, which she is drawing now all the time.    

Of course, accompanying the arrival of middle school life was a period of adolescent rebellion. She didn’t like study, but loved displaying her individual characteristics and even had to roll up one leg of her school uniform trousers to make herself feel comfortable…

 Nobody knows from when ‘rebel’ became the label that people stuck on Zhou. 

‘Everyone thought I was an ‘art student’ and the stereotype of the ‘art students’ was that they were good at nothing except arts…but I am going to break this stereotype!’ 

This inner rebellion seemed to have become another type of force driving Zhou Yishuang. She decided to change herself and tear that label off. The list of outstanding students, the honor wall of smiling faces and Parsons, the dream school of all the fashion designers; she wants them all.   

3 Shine in your own way


With this momentum, Zhou began to change herself and as she wished, she managed to leave beautiful scores on her academic report. Her picture was displayed on the wall of honor and she finally received the offer of her dream school, the Parsons School of Design. 

But as revealed by the ‘Law of Ten Thousand Hours’, there must be a huge amount of practice, accumulation and sacrifice behind every success.  It was indeed true in Zhou’s case, the countless days and nights she spent preparing for Parsons and IBDP work collections eventually paid off in the best way possible.

 ‘Art learning in the IBDP taught me how to reflect upon my own artistic understanding and expression. It did not only allow me to gain the freedom to create but also learn how to be responsible for each of my own designs and expressions. By doing so, I gained a very important quality of being a good artist, which is empathy. This I think is equally important for fashion designers, as only by expressing his or her ideas clearly in the designed clothes, can the designer attract more consumers.’ 

In the summer of 2018, Zhou went to New York to attend the summer school at Parsons, hoping to increase her knowledge about the school and add more inspiration for her ongoing work collection for the Parsons application.  

At Parsons Summer School, the girl wearing the yellow top is Zhou Yishuang


During the three weeks there, Zhou, together with students from all over the world, followed the teachers in learning all the basic skills including the use of sewing machines and pattern design, and finally completed the design and production of one piece of clothing. Zhou said that by observing her teachers in Parsons, she understood the true craftsmanship, which represents the ultimate pursuit of detail.   


Zhou Yishuang and The Teacher of the Parsons Summer School 


Apart from that, Zhou also gained a lot of inspiration from the library of Parsons which is full of design books, and the bustling urban boulevards in New York. 

She studied at fast pace for more than ten hours every day, non-stop, and often fell asleep on piles of fabric. She was always the last person returning to the dormitory and when she felt too stressed, she would have a walk along the Hudson River, a good place to calm her down.

‘Even so, I still love New York. When my younger brother went to the States in the 6th Grade, my family went to visit him and dropped by the East Coast, which was my first time in New York. In this marvelous city, everyone is running fast and everyone has his or her own dreams and goals. They are dressed up in whatever way they want and nobody will be judgmental, because a hundred people would have a hundred different interpretations of fashion.’  

I don’t dress age, I dress myself.’ This is a phrase that Zhou admires very much.   

Zhou is full of gratitude, she says, as she has always been allowed to live her best self, in the way she wants. Indeed, we should all try to live out the best self, tear up the label the world placed on us and be excellent in our own way. 



Some works in Zhou Yishuang’s design collection for Parsons

Title:Breaking the Chaos

This design took its shape from the Fighting Festival in Peru (on this day, the locals will release all the negative emotions and gain rebirth through ‘fighting’ each other). By mixing the hard (armor) and soft (fabric), Zhou explained the connection between people: intertwining, conflict and support.   


Title: Future Cleaner

The inspiration of this design came from the concerns about the excess plastic waste in the future and took its initial shape from the uniform of road cleaners, who are used by the designers as representatives to call for the reduction of plastic consumption.  The pants can be worn in multiple ways, which represents the growing sense of garbage recycling.  

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