Photographer Rachel Le spends a day with Mrs Wang, the best dressed mum in Flushing

The project, titled Mrs Wang from Flushing, follows a woman who loves her family, her clothes, but most importantly, herself.

27 February 2024

When Rachel Le first started dabbling in fashion photography, she regularly dreamt of collaborating with the biggest brands and names. Though soon enough, she realised that this path might not be the one she was destined for – not only was it going to be incredibly tricky work, she already had a brilliant creative network surrounding her. One day, she found herself scrolling through her Instagram, looking at the work of all the people she went to college with before she had a strike of inspiration – why not work together? After many conversations with her fashion designer friends, they came up with a fun, street fashion series that celebrated the one and only Mrs Wang: “a woman who loves her family, her clothes, and herself”.

Originally, the shoot simply began as a fun project with friends, but after speaking with Mrs Wang (who happens to be the mother of one of the fashion designers involved, shown together in a below image) Rachel found herself delving deeper into the narrative. When she was in her thirties, Mrs Wang emigrated from Korea to Flushing, a town in Queens that since the 1980s has had a large Korean immigrant population. Keen to pay homage to Mrs Wang’s story, Rachel and her friends decided the shoot would take place in Flushing, the place she raised her family and calls home, making use of its inner-city energy.


Rachel Le: Mrs Wang from Flushing (Copyright © Rachel Le, 2024)

Rachel also began to investigate how the series might interact with the experience of middle-aged women, like her mother, who often steer clear of trendy fashion, instead “embodying a quiet resilience”, says Rachel. “I couldn’t help but ponder whether cultural norms and traditions have moulded them into being self-critical, or if this perception is solely a reflection through the eyes of a younger generation.” So she aimed for a fun, energetic shoot that shed the societal expectations of “mums” and instead demonstrated the bond between generations, as highlighted by the young designers crafting Mrs Wang’s clothes, “symbolising the harmonious coexistence of generations with the community”.

Soon after picking up her first camera (bought randomly on Facebook Marketplace after deciding to take her role as her friend group’s designated photographer more seriously) Rachel realised she had a passion for capturing unexpected moments across New York. And now, she always tries to maintain a level of spontaneity in her projects. “I typically don’t have a specific direction when it comes to building a concept,” says Rachel. “I tend to use what the area offers that day which also allows me to work collaboratively with other creatives in the team.” Originally, the shoot with Mrs Wang was planned to take place in a bank’s parking lot – the team thought its long, overgrown grass would make a cool background. On arrival, they discovered the grass had been cut clean, and so started wandering around Flushing, using colourful shop fronts as backdrops.

One of these off-the-cuff shots resulted in Rachel’s favourite image from the series: Mrs Wang stood outside of a clothes shop inspecting her tailored coat, with two young kids caught in the frame, looking slightly bemused. “These two boys happened to walk past probably on the way home from school, they glanced at Mrs. Wang for 0.5 seconds and then realised I was in front of them with a film camera,” says Rachel. “The photo ties in perfectly with the juxtaposition of old and young, mundane and creative which all happened in one frame.” For the rest of the shoot they made use of Mrs Wang’s home. In one image, taken in the trim setting of a backyard, the high-fashion outfit clashes brilliantly with the clean-cut suburbia.

For Rachel, the project demonstrates the “importance of celebrating and uplifting the community we’re from”. Not only did she initiate a collaboration between fellow young creatives, but between mother and daughter, all the while celebrating ageless fashion, and of course, Flushing. She hopes the series inspires creatives who are going through a change, a tough time or a lack of work, but also their mum and their aunt too.

GalleryRachel Le: Mrs Wang from Flushing (Copyright © Rachel Le, 2024)

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Rachel Le: Mrs Wang from Flushing (Copyright © Rachel Le, 2024)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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