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Having Fun with WANG and LIM

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On April 8, 2014 & posted in Editor's picks, Exclusive, Fashion Brand


 
 
 
 

– Words by Veronica Foregger 


 
 
 
 

The funny thing about fashion, and well, almost any creative art, is this constant insistence on looking for the next big thing, creating the next big thing, or even becoming the next big thing. In our search for identifying what’s hot and trending, we assume that we are finding ‘new’ and ‘original’ along with it. But is anything really new these days?

Every season derivative styles flow down the runway in a swirl of post-modern expression. Designs are immediately deconstructed in written pages and across the Internet. We celebrate all the trends that “are back,” paint everything in shades ‘retro’ and wax endlessly on inspiration. Has everything already been done? Quite possibly. Is that a bleak view on the future of art, of fashion, of society? Not necessarily.

 

Fashion’s greatest gift, a gift that it gives everyone, from the most brilliant designers and stylists to everyone of us that has lost their mind staring at their closet – screaming we have nothing to wear, is its endless possibilities. This ability to combine, to mix and match, to mash up, is where the true creativity lies.
 
 
 

 
 
 

With this in mind, The GROUND decided to bring together two iconic designers, and blend their styles with a taste of late 80’s and early 90’s fashion photography and magazine layout. Our editor in chief, Ryan Yoon admits that lately he has been obsessed with the time period, and hearing the power ballads he’s been blasting in the office and on shoots, everyone at The GROUND would have to agree.
 
 
 

 
 
 

Ryan cites David Sims and Yohji Yamamoto’s collaboration book and “Blue Peter” fashion story from 1987 issue of “THE FACE” Magazine’s as immediate inspirations. It’s a look back at when oversized typography, pop colors, and logo celebration, nay worship, ruled the day. Simple layouts and basic forms often accompanied these design trends.
 
 
 

 
 
 

Running with this, Ryan was on the lookout for current designers who personified this duality in their work. When the S/S 2014 collections had come and gone, Alexander Wang and Phillip Lim emerged as obvious choices. These two American designers have always had a thing for simplicity with a touch of madness. And that’s how ‘Having fun with Wang and Lim’ sprang to life.

Wang and Lim have quite a few things in common. They are both of Chinese descent, but born and raised in California. They’ve each received the Swarovski design award, and most importantly, they’ve managed to create unique brands, redefining American fashion in the process. When you buy a piece from their collections, you’re not just buying just a bag or a pair of shoes. You’re buying an attitude, on opportunity of expression. You’re making a declaration of where you stand in the world.
 
 
 

 
 
 

Let’s take a moment to recap on what Wang and Lim have been up to this S/S 2014 season, and where their inspirations came from. Phillip Lim’s collection is the yin in our story, a passive sturdy foundation. The delicate balance of elements and subtle shapes in his collection we’re literally inspired from bedrock. As grounding for our fun mash up, we couldn’t be in a better place. The yang, well that’s Alexander’s Wang. His strong and bold statement pieces are the pop needed to set the looks off. Combined they emerge as a unique clash of attitudes and approach to fashion.

If you haven’t yet seen the word ‘WANG’ out and about, one thing is for sure – that will totally change this season. As if fashion fans didn’t already know the name of the designer who rules New York Fashion Week – Alexander Wang decided to spelled it all out for us at his last runway show, in ALL CAPS. As the first models came turning the corners of a club-like, jungle gym cubist warehouse space, you could see ‘WANG’ splashed on everything. From white leather gloves to crop tops and boy shorts. The brand name came laser cut into the sleeves of trench coats and embroidered into cummerbund-like elastic panels on waists.

At first look, all this logo love would seem like a huge departure from Wang’s minimal aesthetics and downtown cool. Not to mention, most designers try to stay away from the bold logos that are so easily corrupted on the knock off market. The branded patterns that make Midwesterners swoon for it’s easily identifiable trademarking. But, fortunately for Wang, he managed to tie the old with the new, and in the end, even his most ‘conservative’ fans were happy with Wang’s logo choices.

Beyond the endless ‘Wang’, Alexander found a one-hit wonder with his ‘Parental Advisory’ top. Swiping from that iconic logo from the early 90’s brings us back to a time when obscene was actually on trial. It’s fun now, and cute now and is the perfect bratty punctuation mark for Wang’s latest collection.

The Parental Advisory Label has become the most sought after (and most copied) item of the season. We were lucky enough to get our hands on it for this shoot before it was gone. As some wise man, somewhere once said, there is always a reason to madness. When logo mania raged in the early 90’s, Alexander Wang was a teenager. His experience was not forgotten when it came to seeking inspiration for his current collection. Before the show he said, “That was the height of me in high school, reading and obsessing over (magazines) and being a fashion geek.” Wang decided to resurrect that 90’s cool and reconnect with the street and simply have some fun.

Alexander Wang even went back to his adolescent roots in the collection’s ad campaign. Lazing around in the school bathroom, the models evoke a club so cool, so against the grain, we’re immediately jealous of this super clique. It’s an aspiration – both chic and perverse. Alexander explained to WWD in January,
 
 
 
 
 
 

Since the spring-summer 2014 collection plays on the duality of naïveté and perverse explicitness in youth culture, we wanted to shoot the campaign in a very familiar environment most people grow up reminiscing about.

It’s a scintillating, thought provoking campaign. It’s sexy and dirty but not over the top. One wonders if Tipper Gore would have slapped a parental advisory label on it 20 years ago.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Phillip Lim doesn’t ever want to go back. Not back to school, not to last week. He considers his approach ‘evolution’. So its no wonder Lim got down with the earth sciences for his latest collection. Geology isn’t a typical inspiration. All ready with that as a starting point, Lim is literally breaking new ground. Specifically Lim looked at earth’s geodes – those hollowed spaces in the ground filled with dazzling mineral deposits. Lim taped into these natural creations in his embroidery as well as in his silk prints.
 
 
 

 
 
 

Lim’s softer, more minimal pieces evoke wind-swept landscapes – the shifting sands of the desert, the smoothness of the canyons of the American West. The add campaign promoting the collection features a woman making her way across an arid dessert landscape. As Phillip himself remarked, “its all elemental.” Indeed the pieces work as bass notes, essential and subtle.
 
 
 

 
 
 

When mixed with the geode flourishes – the looks form into something spectacular. The show itself was a geological trip. The models came in a complex walk across a salt floor, kicking up just the right amount of dusk to add an ethereal quality.

Lim has never been a stranger to nature. Whether its fur as in 2009, or animal prints in 2010, he’s often pulling from the world around him. With such acumen for interpreting the world into everyday designs with a cool, its surprising Lim doesn’t consider designing his life’s calling. Originally he studied economics at California State Long Beach before switching his major to home economics. The evolution had begun. His focus in fashion merchandising, not necessarily design, but eventually recognition of his design word would lead him to where he is today.
 
 
 

 
 
 

Not to say Phillip Lim hasn’t been a commercial success. What makes his collections most unique is the price point for such an accomplished, visionary designer. With prices in the hundreds, not thousands, Lim reaches into the everyday working world making an immediate impact. The commercial success of his pashli bag, and recent collaboration with Target are evidence of design and business coming together at its best.

But Lim is modest, remarking that he “kind of fell into this industry” and has even mentioned a desire to become a farmer. At The GROUND, we’re hoping that doesn’t happen too soon. We’d hate to have Phillip Lim retire off to a farm somewhere but we’re sure he’d return with fantastic, simple, yet chic asparagus inspired trousers.

On that note, this is about having fun with Wang and Lim. So how to reconcile two very different inspirations? For starters, its best not to get too wrapped up in the cerebral world too much. Wang and Lim have done all the heavy lifting for us all ready. Fashion can be at the styling level, and absolutely should be at the consumer level… play. Find your own inspirations, combine and create. And above all, have FUN.

Photography by Ryan Yoon
Styling Megan Ahern
Hair Yoshiki Kirino using Oribe
Makeup Junko Kioka @Joe Management
Model; Eve Delf @ Supreme Management
Romana @ New York Models
Creative Direction & Art Direction Artistic Cube Inc.
Casting Jorge Morales



 

 

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