Angel Chen’s fall collection came together in a uniquely nomadic way. Finally able to do a long wished-for trip to Mongolia—her fiancé is half-Mongolian—Chen and her team set up a movable studio and began exploring Mongolian towns. “We drove to one place, we settled down, and we found the [local artisans] and worked on the collection together, the whole team,” she explained over Zoom. “It was a very dramatic experience for me because everything was made by someone that is very down to earth, they protect the environment and they love their farm, the place where they grew up. It’s like making the product right inside your home.”
The result is a stunning collection, photographed across different Mongolian landscapes, that brings together Chen’s exacting vision for silhouette and texture, with intricate local craftsmanship. The pieces run the gamut from the simple, like workwear-ready button-down shirts and jumpsuits hand-embroidered with cowrie shells, to ponchos, jackets, and hoodies in intricate woven tapestries featuring an image of a horse. A blanket made from a sweeping image of a landscape was fashioned into a sleeveless dress with a high collar, its bold green and orange matching the Mongolian steppe.
Elsewhere, a pair of wide-leg jeans with a ruffled and shaggy fur detail at the waist were cuffed extra wide—so wide that there are buttonholes to hold the cuff in place—showing a stenciled pattern painted underneath. Worn with a baby tee and a boho-style white felted coat with shaggy fur trim, it had a certain kind of ease yet also a glamour, like something Rihanna might wear. A quilted oversized jacket and trousers made of intricately woven jacquards and brocades likewise had real-life superstar appeal. Also special was a pair of dragon-printed jeans made from a special velvet denim developed by Chen. While it’s obvious that some of the pieces will not be available for wide retail distribution, the collection as a whole is infused with the designer’s point of view, connecting traditional artisanal traditions with modern silhouettes and, in the process, ensuring that these important crafts do not disappear.