Monday, February 23, 2009

Talking Art and Fashion with Ray Chang: Links a la Mode

Watercolor by Ray Chang
Ray Chang is Art Director at Oscar de la Renta. His blog fancygreysuit, serves as an outlet for his artistic talent and philosophical musings. Style Gourmand spoke with him about his thoughts on art, fashion and life.

I always think of fashion as a fine balance between art and business, one can't survive very long in the fashion without mastering both: As an art-minded person do you see think art still exists in fashion, or is it just strictly business?
I think that it’s more of trying to inject a little bit of art into business. But it’s mainly business. In these times, who can afford not to think that way? You’ll always have brands who push the boundaries of ‘commerce’ like Comme des Garcons, which is refreshing.

Have you always had an interest in fashion or is it just an occupational hazard?
I’ve always had an interest in the pictures, much less on the clothes. My favorite book of Marilyn photographs by Bert Stern, Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, those pictures really invoked something within me. That’s why I got into art direction, not fashion design (which I’d probably be terrible at anyway). The fashion industry to me is just a form in which I can tell stories.

How did you get into the fashion industry?
I got into the fashion industry by happenstance. My first job out of art school was to work on the Dockers account in San Francisco. I was hired by this really talented art director named Robert Lussier who now works in Paris on Dior. After that, we both went to New York, and I’ve had the pleasure on working on brands such as Gap, John Varvatos, Henri Bendel, Levi’s, Ann Taylor, K-Swiss and now, Oscar de la Renta.

What was the biggest difference you noticed in dress when you moved to nyc from the west coast?
More coats. You have to be a little more buttoned up here in New York. People won’t take you seriously otherwise. When I go back to LA though, it’s back to the white t shirt, shorts and a clean white pair of Vans.

Even though you didn't intend to have a career in fashion, you definitely have a distinct sense of personal style- how would you describe it?
Do I? (laughing). As I’ve gotten older (age withheld), it’s easier just to wear the basics. There are some pieces, or looks that have withstood the test of time, and everyone looks good in them. Simple. Except my socks. I like colored socks.

What's so great about American fashion?
American fashion is great because, like America, it’s so diverse. You have people of all cultures, and even things that are inherently American, have roots in England. Because of this, our fashion has no boundaries.

Tell me about fancygreysuit, especially the significance of the name to you.
fancygreysuit is a site where I put up all the random thoughts in my head and my drawings. They’re quick visual journals into things I’m thinking about, love, or comments on the world. I like things that look a bit innocent, where they’re seen with a bit of wonder, but hopefully, have a little bit of depth to them. When you’re young, you always have that one thing that you wish you had, whether it be a suit, or for a woman, a beautiful dress. And when you put it on, you’re more alive somehow.. And everyone should have a fancy grey suit. I’m still looking for mine.

Do you think all the constant buzz about what Michelle Obama will make people more aware of how they look and maybe have a positive impact on how women in America dress?
I think it will be not so much about her per se, but them together. You have a magical first couple that brings us back to the days of Camelot. And that has an aspirational effect on how we not only perceive them and America, but ourselves.

Complete the sentence: everyone looks good in _somebody’s arms.

Who would be your celebrity muse?
Marcello Mastroianni.

Since you started your career outside the fashion industry, do you still consider yourself a fashion outsider or are you now an insider?
Always on the outside looking in, but happy that it is the way it is. Don’t get too close to the fire!

- Style Gourmand


  1. what a wonderful thing to say...

    everyone looks good in _somebody’s arms.

  2. I adore Ray's drawings !

  3. I'm def going to check his blog out! Great interview! I'm currently enrolled in an art class in college and that watercolor painting just made me inspired!

  4. I really amazed with this article, and I like the picture in this blog. Really beautiful!

  5. thanks Chris! yes, Ray is an amazing artist. you see more of his work on his blog