A Memoir For Grandmother

The vivid portrait of designer Chenghui Zhang’s grandmother’s tale is very sentimental. The designer develops a liberating contemporary vision constructing garments that hold great symbolism of a moment and place. Zhang’s powerful conceptual design communicates with the viewer and wearer, linking lineage to fashion without theatrics.

“Remembering The Forgotten” recognizes how the past links with the present. Inspired to create a memoir of her grandmother, New York City-based designer Chenghui Zhang examines thirty years of her grandmother's journey in a thesis collection showcasing traditional fabric, combined with modern materials, which creates a powerful visual.

The Nu Journal Chenghui Zhang FW17

Her encounters served as a source of inspiration for Zhang who dissects a symbolic period of her life. Times of happiness, hardships, and a silver lining traces back to the early stages of development and globalization in China. Zhang divided the story into four characters, starting with her grandmother’s affection for the soil, her freedom to do anything during this peaceful time while working as a farmer in South China.  Migrating to Inner Mongolia until near the end of the Cultural Revolution. Leading her to the city as a factory worker and a communist socialist.


Remember The Forgotten


I Remember growing up with the earth. 

I was very close to the soil. 

My days were spent working the land 

Finding comfort in the monotony of our daily tasks 


I remember the freedom of the fields

Endless rows expanding on forever

I remember running through them

Until my legs would give out


I remember the golden dawns

Watching my brother’s leave for school

My place was in the home,

Theirs was beyond our farm.


Inner Mongolia became our new home

The winds would scream through the valleys


I remember washing my blistered hands,

The dirt from the hour long days caked underneath my fingertips.


We were brought here to empower the uneducated

Empower the worker


The Nu Journal Chenghui Zhang FW17

They told us to go to the city

The air felt thicker here

I remember the ever-present propaganda,

Fists raised in the air, everything gleamed red


The days blended into one

I wake up

I lace my boots

I put on my uniform


I was a soldier for my government

A fate I couldn’t escape

Everything else subsumes the greater purpose

But I had forgotten what I was fighting for.


Time eventually passes

And my memories continue to fade

But I remember our community

I remember the hope


This Poem Is Delicated To Her Life – Chenghui Zhang