By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly
Dream. Evolution. Freedom. These were the attributes that Devon Yan-Berrong wanted to convey through his 2013 spring/summer collection, Devonation. Earlier this month, Yan-Berrong presented his fifth collection, consisted of 29 different outfits, to an enthusiastic and energetic crowd at The Social on Capitol Hill. The packed house consisted of members of the fashion community, friends and family of the designer and models, and bar patrons.
As soon as the show started, attendees gave their full attention to the models wearing Yan-Berrong’s designs. Inspired by the energetic, vibrant trends from the 1960s, his outfits were pattern-heavy featuring bright yellows, purples, and blacks.
Originally from Hong Kong, Yan-Berrong kept his fashion talents hidden for a long time — mostly because his traditional Asian parents were not fond of him pursuing a career in the arts or fashion. They wanted him to be a doctor or lawyer, but things didn’t exactly turn out the way his parents had hoped.
Persuing the untraditional route, Yan-Berrong began his career as a watercolorist and eventually added fashion design to his resume in 2010. He recently took first place in the Asian Weekly’s newspaper fashion contest and also designed the flyer for the first-ever Pride ASIA event a few months ago.
A self-taught artist and fashion designer, he presented his first collection in 2010. After the event, he was overwhelmed by requests to participate in other shows in major cities around the country. He was even personally invited by Project Runway producers to be a part of their show. In addition, Yan-Berrong was a nominee for the 2010 Portland Fashion Week Emerging Designer recognition.
The opportunities continued coming, and it was hard for anyone around him to deny his true talents.
It was Yan-Berrong’s partner of almost eight years, Ric, who finally encouraged him to present his work to his parents and ask for their full support.
His parents eventually acknowledged their son’s gift and accepted his desire to achieve his dreams. The Yan family has come a long way; his mother has even travelled from China to attend her son’s show.
Yan-Berrong attributes much of his creativity from his own Chinese heritage, as well as other cultures.
“Most of my inspiration comes from different people’s stories and different cultures from around the world. I love to mix and match them to create my own story and express them through my collection.”
In addition, Yan-Berrong’s inspiration also comes from the dramatic designs of the late Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Vivienne Westwood.
Different from anything she’s ever seen in her fashion career before, Tiffany Sarn, one of the Yan-Berrong’s models of the show, described his collection as a “a perfect blend of Eastern and Western couture in one.” She was drawn to his love of fashion, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to be in his show. Sarn expected the event to “wow” audiences with “perfectly, chosen fabric and Devon’s point cutting skills.”
Yan-Berrong has no plans on returning to his native Hong Kong for fashion, but hopes to share his Chinese culture and heritage with people in the states.
But like any other competitive industry, the fashion route holds constant challenges for Yan-Berrong.
“Now I face other challenges like keeping my dream alive, money for the materials, and time to build the art piece or collection.” Yan-Berrong said.
Despite these bumps in the road, he is still determined to breakthrough in the fashion market in the Pacific Northwest as a “double minority.”
Over the years, Yan-Berrong learned that things may not always go the way you want them to, but staying confident and strong is key.
“No matter what, you must believe in yourself. You need to know who you are, what you want and where you’re at. When you figure those out at the same time, your goal will be much easier to reach.” (end)
For more information about Yan-Berrong and his collection, visit devonyanberrong.com.
Nina Huang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.