"When I was little, my parents -- you know, they are Asian -- wanted me to be a doctor," recalls designer Angel Chang. "So I always thought I'd be an orthopedic surgeon, because I was a jock in high school." While she scored on her volleyball team and excelled in academics, Chang would buy patterns and fabrics, then sew pieces for herself and friends back home in Muncie, Indiana, where she grew up. In 11th grade, the precocious teenager wrote a long letter to Anna Sui, which she entwined with ribbons. Three months later, she received a six-page handwritten note from her idol. "She was the only Asian designer I knew of and also from the Midwest. She told me about her life and how she got to where she was. I was delirious!" A year later, in 1996, Chang moved to New York to attend Barnard College and began her internship at Anna Sui.
Chang's parents can now relax. This year, she
won a coveted award from the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation for her
tech-advanced designs with experimental fabric -- such as a pleated white
tunic that turns yellow. Since arriving in New York, the workaholic did
stints with Marc Jacobs, Viktor & Rolf and Donna Karan; finished her
master's program in modern art at Columbia University; and co-founded Me
magazine. "My goal is to find a solution to a problem in fashion. For
example, my friend was wearing a T-shirt on a hot day, but later at
night, it dropped 10 degrees. That was a problem," says the tireless
28-year-old. "The solution would be to create a top that warms itself
up. With technology, it's possible."
Angel wears an outfit by Angel Chang.