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am, is, are

am is are  2021

virtual showroom

am,is,are is an audio-visual exploration of the signification of identity by artist-conceptual-designer Chaney Manshu Diao. Chaney used fashion as a strategy to investigate a paradoxical relation between the appearance and the self, which is established and confirmed during the daily encounters between "I" and "the other".


am,is,are looks into the conception of individual identity through the lens of cyborg-feminism and post-humanism theories, to question in order to look for a sense of transcendence of the biological limitation of the self. arm,is,are works across visual art, poetry and spoken words with the emphasis on the forms and traces of existence across varied mediums which contemporary humankind constantly is in contact with.


Chaney's decision of working with written and spoken words for this particular work points out the importance of utterance of the self, which predominantly would be conceived as the form of being. 

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I identified that for Tod’s, the artisan is the core to the meaning of their legacy. I therefore chose to focus on the shoe-maker’s gesture of making a Gominno Shoe. Based on the starting point of my project which is a playful investigation on Tod’s variants - Dots and Toes, I decided to approach those shoe-making techniques - punch, lines, holes, dots, fold, unfold, stitch, mould, wrap - firstly as graphic words.


Believing that any craft requires some sort of repetitive labour, I started to repeat this shoe-maker’s gesture of making a Gominno and to look for a “spirit” beyond its material form.


My final outcome was somewhat influenced by a catalogue article I came across few years ago called Textures of Memories: The Poetics of Cloth, that demonstrated the thinking “as immanent, a form of experimentation” in relation to gesture, texture, and space.  And I used the shoe-making gestures to let “new concepts unfold in ways we can not anticipate.” 


The tartan pattern is more commonly composed of intricate lines of colours on a wool fabric and is more commonly associated with Scottish heritage since the XVIIe century (Neuville, 2013). Under the lens of the artist Chaney Diao, the tartan become more than a print. Loosing its materiality and digitalized the possibilities are enlarged and the pattern enters a new dimension, when not appliqué on a fabric it can be distorted, layered and each intersections uses as pixels for the purpose of futuristic image making in fashion. This synonym of tradition and Scottish national identity in the general view is extruded from its context and brought to a new interpretation, transcended on digital interfaces. Playful and meaningful her work of deconstruction is a representation of both renewal in the way fashion is treated yet including as a base an archaic symbol of fashion making.
 This first hint about Chaney Diao’s reemployment of the tradition could be seen as pretty obvious but we can argue that the whole hyphenation from the materiality of garments making is in fact and in essence a way to create through her unique vision the transition between tradition and modernity in fashion. Fashion is used for its imagery but not provoked in the sense that garments are not the finality of this project while still being part of a fashion design project in a modern and avant-gardist vision.

words by Marien Brandon

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pleasure 41

Chaney’s final year collection: Pleasure 41 is a conceptual project about the kinky relationship between people and dress. Her work explored the historical norms and restrictions of proper dress to reveal the obscure sexual pleasure of corporeal discipline.


The initial idea was highly influenced by the designer's previous collective experience in china, where individuality and her homosexual-identity have caused issues and confusions. however, it also provided her with the root to grow her own sexual fetish towards disciplines.  

Chaney’s work also aims to bring up diversity towards nowadays fashion language, and to revive the craftsmanship in her making process.

"Based on my own experience, I see clothes as restrictions towards human, both physically and mentally. some identical clothes, a military uniform for instance, exerts a psychological influence by giving the wearer the feeling of having to be obedient to a higher-ranking individual or authority. In my work Pleasure 41 especially, I was seeking for a balance in order to translate these non-physical restrictions caused by clothes into an obscure sexual pleasure, by following a generalized mentally Sadomasochism’s pattern. I believe my work is a frank reflection of gender and sexuality issues rooted in my cultural background. And it is a hidden message of showing the politics of expectations on human’s social appearance."

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