July 21, 2017 11:00 AM

In 2016, fresh out of Parsons, Johna Stone founded his contemporary womenswear brand. The young designer was born and raised in China where he studied at the Beijing Film Academy, only before deciding to take a new turn with a new career goal. His mind set up on Parsons, Johna came to New York City where he is now based. Another early interest of the designer– becoming a cartoonist– brings graphic elements to his minimalist aesthetic.


---------------JOHNA STONE INTERVIEW---------------


1. First, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

My name is Johna (Liangjian Shi). I was born and raised in Xinjiang, the northwest territory of China inhabited by many minority ethnic groups. I was accepted into Beijing Film Academy for Computer Animation after high school, but I soon realized my passion lay more in the character’s wardrobes, so I transferred to Parsons School of Design in New York City (with one semester at Parsons Paris) to pursue my fashion dream.


2. What brought you to New York?

To be honest, it was Parsons. I heard about the school when I was still in high school, and knowing many contemporary designers that I liked had attended here at some point made me wonder what it’s like to study at Parsons. Other than that, everything is happening is NYC– the culture, diversity, convenience, and excitement all added on top of that.


3. You mentioned starting in animation, but quickly finding your way to fashion. How did it happen?

Yes, I got into Beijing Film Academy to study Computer Animation. Later on, I noticed that everytime when I was given an assignment to design a character, I spent a lot of time trying to make it look fashionable and cool. Soon I realized that fashion is what I wanted to pursue for my career.


4. What are your biggest sources of inspiration?

I usually got inspired by interesting shapes/compositions, or an object with a unique structure. I’m very fond of discovering the beauty in the mundane life, guessing and giving meanings to the things we take for granted, and discovering the philosophy behind it. Then, I find visuals that represent and convey the meaning or concept that I observed and try to apply those on the human figure through clothing.


5. So, it seems like your time at the Beijing Film Academy might still influence your designs.

Absolutely. I still am obsessed with movies, I go to the cinema at least twice a week, a habit that I kept since I was a freshman at Beijing film academy. We used to watch a lot of movies and analyze the scenes and visual languages. I remember my professor used to tell us that a movie should tell a story clearly to its audience without too many dialogues between the actors. Therefore each object or scene becomes an element that has a life of its own, to represent something or reveal a fact. The graphic elements in my collection often come from an object or idea, then I make them more abstract to carry a subtle message. You will see in my new SS18 collection!


6. You used neutral colors in your Spring/Summer 2017 collection, and then again neutral shades for Fall/Winter 2017, but with an added touch of bright red. Was it a conscious choice to add color or perhaps the unconscious proof you are getting more confident?

Brilliant observation! My SS17 collection was the first collection that I had, and it was in fact my thesis project. I was still a bit shy from the color choices, but after I finished it, I reviewed the collection objectively, and realized that going forward I should be more adventurous in terms of using colors and materials. As a young designer, I hope to improve every season, experimenting with new techniques and innovations.


7. You also have a footwear collection, can you tell us a little bit more about it?

Sure. It was actually a shoe design competition that I won in my senior year at Parsons. It’s called Shoe Polytechnique Sponsorship Award, which is a collaboration between Parsons and Politecnico Calzaturiero in Italy. Winners receive the reward of having our designed shoes made in Italy, as a pivotal component of our thesis collection. The prototypes came out really cool, and they were exhibited in the Seaport Culture Event around Wall Street last year. I put the Oxford flats into production, and I’m looking to sell them on my website soon.


8. When you're not working, what occupies your time?

Well, I like to discover the city a lot, going to different neighborhoods and museums, people watching, and getting inspired by the surroundings.


9. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Making a great living by doing what I love, designing.


10. Do you have any exciting plans for NYFW in September?

My new collection is almost ready, and I’m hoping to showcase my work during NYFW, I’m talking to some venues at the moment, so let’s see what happens! I’m excited!








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