LOOK: This Fashion Designer Promotes Gender Fluidity and Self-Identity in New Collection

Sebastien Kwok is thrilled to unveil its first Autumn Winter collection Grey Garden at No. 1376 West Nanjing Road, Jing’an on 28 th Feb, 2022. Featuring 60 looks, the collection is an in-depth research into gender, autonomy and our position in the capitalist world. With bold materials and design, Sebastien Kwok creates a shared emotion around vulnerability and sensitivity which defines us as human beings. By doing so, he urges us to reconsider: what makes us human? What connects us?

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This collection takes its name from the 1975 documentary classic Grey Garden by Albert and David Maysles, which redefines individualism and sanity. Set in Long Island, New York, the film portrays Big and Little Edie, an upper-class mother-daughter who fell through the stars. Obsessed with managing their deteriorating estate, the two were completely isolated from the world and often considered deranged by their contemporaries. However, Sebastien Kwok offers another lens to that story – one that recognises the women’s individuality in staying true to themselves.

Indeed, the Edies’ audacity is particularly relevant in today’s internet-filtered age where individuals are under immense pressure to conform with public aesthetic scrutiny. As a counter-force, Sebastian Kwok invites us to a surrealistic and futuristic universe of 2022 inspired by the Swiss multimedia artist Pamela Rosenkrantz, incorporating heavy smell and the blue-green lighting, water and sand element, engaging our senses and transporting us to a meditative place. The show is in an endeavour to defy all the labels and arbitrary binaries that set us apart. It celebrates the intricate human connection sustained by authenticity and audacity.

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Concealing and revealing in the post-social-media age

Today, social media defines our reality in unprecedented ways. Algorithms and advertisements create unrealistic expectations of how and who we need to be to remain relevant. Individuals are tempted to conceal the mundane of everyday life while revealing the desirable and the aspirational. The flimsy glamour isolates and distances us. Ironically, our insecurity fuels the capitalist machines that discourage authenticity.

Little Edie reminds us that concealing and revealing is a choice. Our public persona should reflect our desired image, rather than the image desired of us. Suffering from Alopecia Totalis and always seen wrapped in her headscarf, Little Edie has lost most of her hair in her 30s. Rather than lamenting her disease, she often shared ingenious ideas about styling and what to conceal and reveal, she defines her own sense of reality, beauty and strength. This collection pays tribute to her bold reminder by adopting elements of capes and headscarves.

We further critique the toxic internet persona by unpacking conventional notions of taste, sexuality, and other binaries through an investigation into Swedish artist Anna Uddenberg’s body of work. Using sculptural shapes and materials as visual language, we explore the performative nature of gender, challenge the ideal body type and question the feminine identity in a highly filtered post internet age. On the other hand, we refer to the alpha male image as dictated by popular culture and media with down jackets sculpted like muscle-buffed-male or stripped to the bare basics. The hyperbolical visual language questions the body stereotypes that plague our public personas.

At the cross juncture where empowerment is central to any discussion about gender, we pay homage to feminine authenticity by establishing the essential space for expression. Using oversize jackets and garments embellished with a large number of bells, we penetrate the physical environment and the soundscape to encourage women to speak up and be heard.

This prolific collection provides a sense of freedom, imagination sanctuary for the ones in need. Instead of linear sources of inspiration and aesthetics, this is an ongoing, multifaceted project that initiates different dialogues circling our very existence in the modern world.

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