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#ZESTWoman: Wen-chee Liu, Design Devotee

There are some people that are a pleasure to run into. Wen-chee Liu is such a person. No matter the circumstance, she always offers a welcoming genuine smile followed by a warm hug. Wen-chee is a woman devoted to her craft, dedicated to her career, and seemingly tireless when it comes to creating beautiful garments.

Fashion was not her initial path, though. After graduating from UBC with a degree in English literature, Wen-chee decided to follow her heart and enrolled in the Fashion Design program at Blanche Macdonald, followed by an internship at Gucci. For the past 10 years, she has been working as the assistant designer at Jason Matlo brand, working in both ready to wear, bridal wear, and custom couture. Recently she started teaching pattern drafting and garment construction classes at design schools in Vancouver, sharing her skills and experiences with the next generation of Canadian design talent.

It is such a pleasure to feature her today!

Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I take inspirations from people in my life and fashion. My mom taught me to be thoughtful, have respect and treat people with dignity. My friends taught me to be real and true. I’m inspired by great fashion houses like Dior, Armani, Hermes, etc. I’m passionate about fashion not for the frivolous or superficial reason of having designer labels, but the creativity and craftsmanship each brand puts into their products. You can see the love and quality in a well-made garment. I apply this passion in my love for sewing. I put an equal amount of attention to detail in making a simple pencil skirt as an elaborate bridal gown ensuring each piece is perfection.

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Jason Matlo and Wen-chee at YSL

How do you build successful friendships?
Honesty, loyalty, and mutual respect
are the backbone of longstanding relationships. I am honest, sometimes brutally with the people, and I appreciate honesty in return. This has allowed me to build real lasting and true friendships with a very tight group of friends. People always know where they stand with me. You also have to have a great sense of humor especially when it comes to yourself!

How do you define success and what is the best way to achieve long-term success?
I see success as accomplishing little things in day to day life that are attainable and sustainable. Far too many people set unrealistic goals and achievements on themselves, typically financial, that end up making their lives miserable. Often when people attain a certain level of financial success, they become bitter, resentful and unhappy trying to maintain the lifestyle and social position, or they end up working so much that they can’t even enjoy the success. It becomes a “dog” that walks the owner rather than the other way around. The world of social media has created a world of “perceived success” which I believe is a dangerous barometer for success for many people as well. So less time curating a profile and more time living a real life will lead to a more successful life.

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Wen-chee brightening up Hawaii in Jason Matlo ‘Babe’ dress

What makes you happiest? What do you do in your non-work time?
I love love love to eat!! Food and fashion are my passions in life, literally in that order! I am very adventurous with food and not a food snob. I enjoy street food from a truck as much as expensive caviar, as long as it is tasty and delicious. On my down time, I like to bake. At the moment I’m exploring the world of vegan dishes because I’m curious to see how the vegan version of recipes tastes compared to the traditional version.

What advice do you have for other women looking to take a big step in their lives?
Ladies, take those steps! Have self-belief and confidence. We do live in a world that still makes women feel like they cannot, should not, or that you need the security and finances of a man to take big steps. You take big steps by putting one foot firmly in front of the other. Have no fear and make it happen!

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“My passion for fashion started early when my mom taught me hand sewing when I was 11.  Since then, I’ve literally never stopping sewing!”  

WHO IS WEN-CHEE LIU?

Born in Taiwan, she immigrated to Canada upon finishing elementary school. Being exposed to both Eastern and Western culture shaped her aesthetic and artistic point of view. Her Chinese background taught her to be disciplined and efficient and exposure to western society greatly expanded her freedom of expression. The results of the combination has enlivened runways and racks for many years.

When not in her official creative capacity as Chef d’Atelier, Wen-chee can be found lighting up social events city-wide with her witty banter and charm, with a dapper Jason Matlo by her side.

Follow this amazing woman on Instagram @wenchee!

 

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