Lillian Chen


thesis statement

“Letters to You” is an extension of my thoughts and emotions: each piece inspired by the emotional journey captured in my journal entries.

I used to think that the feeling of holding my breath every week was normal. Wasn’t that just the grind? I would have this foggy, out of body experience as I watched myself pretend to be happy, to seem okay. Things always seem fine when it’s all you know. But, there was a new lightness in my shoulders when I was finally able to admit to myself that I was the reason for my unhappiness, that there was no reason to pretend for anyone else.

Through this journal, I began to fill the gaps of my childhood that I was so used to numbing away. Slowly, the corners of my mind that were shrouded in mystery came to life as I put pen to paper.
Through screen printing, digital printing, weaving and fraying, I translate the tedious and obsessive nature of my writing and illustrate how each day, the weight I was holding on my shoulders chipped away who I really was.

The tailored and draped silhouettes are drawn directly from specific moments of this emotional journey. Whether that is a tailored look that depicts how I used to dress in an attempt to belong, or the draped look that illustrates the lightness and openness one feels after coming out of the fog.
Video: We often deliberately hide the truth from ourselves because it is too painful to express it verbally. I wrote a letter addressed to my mother where I reveal everything that is too difficult for me to admit. I have deconstructed the letter into an incomprehensible list of words before asking her to read it aloud.

look one:
A frayed cotton swatch pulled to illustrate the grid of my montly calendar.
The pulled threads were later layed one by one on water soluble fabric and sewn across to develop my own grid lace.

look two:
A digital printed silk swatch of the pages of my journal entries and monthly calendar.
A frayed and gathered cotton overlayed on top.

look three:
A silkscreened cotton swatch, printed with an grid overlay.
A frayed cotton swatch pulled in a plaid pattern.


Lillian Chen is a storyteller who abstracts her personal narrative from the past, present, and forgotten. She draws inspiration directly from a lifetime of kept journals and memorabilia and is continuously finding ways of writing with materiality, leading her to the exploration of fabric manipulation, knitting, weaving, film, drawing and writing. Her meditative design process allows her once suppressed inner voice to speak for a change and pulls the deep and subtle moments of her childhood upbringings, buried trauma and suppressed emotions to inform her designs and silhouettes. With her walls let down, Lillian’s designs allow for an effortless and raw display of her story. Through her work, she invites others to embrace the forgotten and buried and connect with their true self.