When Fashion Meets Art
with Zoe Chen

Illustration of Zoe Chen, the designer of Zoelle Bybs

“There is so much more to clothing design than just logo or label,” says Zoe Chen, a 20-year veteran in the fashion industry who has created iconic pieces for Issey Miyake, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Marc Jacobs. “My goal is to create a clothing brand that produces art-infused fashion, and explore how clothes can communicate our personalities and inspire our lives. In other words: let’s bring back true design, and expressions of individuality.”

I’m not afraid to break the mold, and capture the essence of what makes luxury truly special—which is the power of individuality.

So it kicks off the story of Zoelle, a new fashion label launched by Chen—a Central Saint Martins alumna and a long-time New Yorker—which began in the wake of post-pandemic fashion conundrums faced by millions of people in the 21st century. The question remains: would women still need luxuriously designed apparel and accessories if the world resorted to wearing sweatpants every day? The answer, as evidenced by Chen’s debut collection, which expands upon her avant-garde graphics melded with thoughtful fabric choices and meticulous construction, is a resounding yes.

“With my passion for fashion, the desire to exude confidence, and a love for textiles, structural designs and experimental prints, Zoelle is a true reflection of me and my vision for the future of style,” says Chen.

For Zoelle’s debut, the brand focused on athleisure, which consists of leggings in three fits and a bra top that can all easily transition from street style to workout chic. Chen drew inspiration from the virtues of mythical creatures, such as phoenix and eagle. She then designed vibrant prints that not only come alive with every movement when worn, but also fully enhance and flatter the contours of the body.

“Our athleisure pieces are made to move,” Chen says of her 2022 Mystic Realm Collection. “Zoelle’s exclusive use of innovative fabric and high-compression design, combined with our signature curve-centric print placements, create beautifully sculpted cuts that are feminine and easy to wear.” The bold artistic details, many of which took upwards of 500 hours to create, propel chromatic style in luxury fashion to the next level.

Zoe Chen in pleated scarf & wrap skirt, Zoelle BybsShe's Got The Look: Zoe Chen in her own free-flowing wrap skirt and pleated scarf.

As a former designer for ISSEY MIYAKE Pleats Please, artistry and innovation are in her DNA. Chen understands the craft of textiles, its history, and the intricate ways in which past sewing methods affect our garments today. She can read a fabric weave, identify fibers, appreciate weaving techniques over time, and treat fabrics with the respect they deserve. A highly skilled patternmaker, she is methodical in her approach to sewing. A perfectionist with exacting standards of fit, she prides herself on variations of the same garment that are meant to fit differently on individual bodies. And as a contemporary artist whose name is synonymous with vibrant colors, she utilizes her expertise to produce beautiful textile art. Chen is associated with bold prints and patterns for this reason—her chromatic sensibility is very much part of her creative identity.

Looking ahead, Chen is focused on taking Zoelle to the next level. She is preparing to launch new accessories such as pleated scarves and handbags, and clothing such as pleated skirts, embroidered sweatshirts, plus a men’s line of compression pants.

“I wanted to make pieces that are truly versatile—almost like art you could wear,” says Chen. “I spend a lot of time studying fabrics, set trends with bold prints, color choices, and silhouettes that show off my range. I’m not afraid to break the mold, and capture the essence of what makes luxury truly special—which is the power of individuality.”