I caught up with my good friend and sartorial muse, Windy Chien, and asked her some questions about how she became an artist, what's inspiring her today, and of course, which clogs she's wearing these days. Windy is one of those people who somehow manages to be both chic and punk rock at the same time, and I always love to see what she's wearing when we go out together. It's always fun and inspiring, and so fucking chic.
You can see (and shop!) Windy's personal Bryr collection here.
Windy's newest pair of Bryr clogs are the Zoe in Moto, which are part of our in-stock program.
Your name: Windy Chien
Where you live: The Mission district in San Francisco, California
Your job: I’m an artist.
Tell me a little about your journey becoming an artist.
I’m on my third life. When I moved to San Francisco for college, I was working in record stores, and I continued doing that for 14 years, eventually owning my own shop, Aquarius Records. In the ‘90s, record stores were the center of my community and I still get a buzz from going into one. I joined Apple in the early aughts, helping to build iTunes into the behemoth that Apple Music is today. One day in 2012, toiling at my office computer, I had an epiphany. My two beloved careers had both been about supporting other peoples creativity . . . but I had neglected my own. I gave notice not one month later.
I knew I wanted to make tangible objects, but didn't know what form that would take. So I attended weekend workshops in everything I was interested in - ceramics, stone carving, woodcarving, woodturning, weaving, interior design . . . you name it, I took a class in it. Then I took a macrame refresher class (my mom had taught me in the ‘70s but I couldn't remember how to get started), and within five minutes I thought “I *love* this.” The repetitive motion, the flow. It felt good. For me, the process is as important as the result. I have to love how the process feels.
I went very deep into knotting. But I realized the most of my work looked like everyone else’s macrame objects. That was epiphany number two. I realized macrame all looks alike because the craft uses only a handful of knots. But the world of knotting is so much larger; in fact, there are almost 4,000 documented and named knots in the world. I decided then and there to teach myself one new knot every day of 2016, resulting in The Year of Knots. By the end of the year, I was fluent in what I have come to realize is a truly universal language of knots. (Knots cross oceans, centuries, genders, occupations: we all wake up in the morning and tie our shoes.) And I had an installation of 366 knots. I knew then that I had become an artist. And I’ve been doing it full time since then.
What's the last project you did and what did you like about it?
I recently knotted a 28-foot long dragon for the De Young Museum. Installed in their huge lobby in front of a monumental, billboard-sized Hung Liu work, I wanted to respond to Liu’s message of the problematic history of Chinese immigration and exclusion in the United States. So I knotted a dragon, which is familiar to us during Chinese New year parades, but instead of its usual celebratory red and gold, I rendered it in white, the Chinese color of mourning and death. There is a long history of Chinese knotting, but I had never made a work so directly addressing my community’s issues via the language of knots. So this was a deeply meaningful project for me.
What piece of advice would you give the 25 year old you?
Don’t fear aging. Growing older is FUN. You get wiser and braver, you figure out how to enjoy all the things so much more, you fall in love with your body. It’s all so good.
How would you describe your style?
At the record shop I was ‘thrift store girl’, at Apple I did ‘secretary drag’ with pussy bows and pencil skirts. I went thru an ‘art teacher caftan’ phase. These days, I’m twisted fashion forward with a lot of quirks. In my dreams, I’m a Japanese male fashion editor wearing all Kapital denim, Comme des Garçons and Yohji. In real life, I wear Issey Miyake and Julia Heuer pleats daily. Pleats work on every body type, pack down to nothing (I travel a lot for work), and you can throw them in the washing machine. I have eight pairs of Bryrs and they go with all of the above!
What are your favorite bryr clogs styles?
Here are some of Windy's looks, you can click here to shop her entire collection here.
Not done exploring? Meed Sadie here.