The fashion line from London based design collective, Point Blank._ brings together influences from the worlds of style and structure. On the one hand, Adrienne Lau, graduate of the Bartlett School of Architecture, whose interest in fashion developed while working on exhibitions and catwalks for Prada for Dutch architecture firm OMA. On the other, Yanyu Chung, Central Saint Martins alum and McQueen obsessive with a pedigree that features experience with the likes of A.F. Vandevorst and Vivienne Tam. Together, these two talented friends – who were schoolmates growing up in Hong Kong – have created a diverse and experimental universe that blends the creative worlds of fashion, film, art and architecture to produce something quite unique. Each collection has dual elements: fashion and scenography, and for Point Blank._ the two are inextricably linked. We spoke to Yanyu (YC) and Adrienne (AL) to find out why they do what they do and what their work means.
How does fashion tie in to your multidisciplinary approach, how essential is it?
YC: The way Alexander McQueen staged his shows had a great impact on me. Then, at Central Saint Martins, I was given the freedom to create and present my work in any way I could think of – be it mixed media, performance, installations or conceptual. That environment allowed me to see that fashion is not just about clothes but the whole narrative behind them too.
Alexander McQueen SS99
AL: Fashion is a field that can co-exist with, and even celebrate, a lot of other art forms – scenography, films, music, etc. But it is not often the case the other way round. Fashion is by nature a multidisciplinary field because of the versatile audience. So, I would say our multidisciplinary approach is embedded in Fashion. And fashion provides the right environment for multidisciplinary work.
What’s your motivation when designing?
AL: The feeling of materialising an idea is incredible. It is very easy to have brilliant ideas but very few of them are actually realised. My motivation when designing is to bring an idea through the test of constraints into reality. I guess being an architect has a lot to do with that mentality.
How do you balance conceptual and wearable?
YC: I wouldn’t think of wearability until after the design and development stage. Concept and idea development is the most important part of our creative process. Finding ways to realise an idea into an actual wearable collection is one of the most exciting parts of the process.
AL: I agree. There’s no meaning if there is no concept. I also think conceptual and wearable are not mutually exclusive. A wearable collection can be faithful to the original concept, given good design skills.
Point Blank AW16
Where do your inspirations come from?
YC: They come from everywhere – from people watching, to snippets of memory, to an art exhibition, a book, films, cultures/subcultures, dance performance, photography, music etc.
AL: Our work is very much linked to cultures/subcultures and very referential. It may not be fully understood without knowledge of the elements that it refers to. We work like this because our interest lies in clashing aesthetics and playing with people’s expectations based on their preconceptions. So, our inspirations are cultural phenomena and people’s perceptions of them.
Space invader shorts AW16
What’s your process of creation and how do you choose fabrics and textures?
Y: We would both start to look at things that interest us at that moment and do plenty of research. Then, we would have a meeting to decide concept direction with the materials we’ve gathered and see how we could develop and incorporate each other’s ideas by making collages and sketches inspired by the research. Finally, I would do draping based on the research and design ideas I’ve got and choose appropriate fabrics and textures that suit the theme/mood.
AL: The concept of the scenography is something we create together for the collection. We would first explore what interests us, find a strong subject and then interpret it in fashion and scenography respectively. For us, the two are never detached from each other.
Sequins from AW16 (close up)
How would you describe your designs?
YC: Our designs are narrative-driven, playful and have clashing identities/mood. Silhouettes are often classic and elegant but with a sense of street aesthetic. Gradually, I would like to introduce more print ideas into our future collections.
AL: Our designs often have a dual aesthetic to them – classic and street. Looks could be styled in both extremes and still retain the Point Blank language.
Point Blank AW16
Tell us about The Space Invasion Collection (AW16)
YC – Fashion: The idea of The Space Invasion Collection is derived from some surreal moments depicted in collages by Eugene Loli, where human beings are shown doing mundane activities, with ease, in extreme environments. Some of the collages are quite humorous and evil at the same time and we wanted to apply this kind of wit to our collection to make it more fun and mischievous.
Eugene Loli print
We are keen on clashing aesthetics, so integrated some street, fun elements – such as space invader motifs and pixels – into our garments, while their silhouettes and fabrications are kept classic and sophisticated looking.
The collection mainly consists of a mixture of wool, cotton, sequins fabric and polyester with different kinds of print techniques applied to individual pieces. There are clashing elements, such as playful, super shiny thigh-high stockings in lilac and lime green sequins, and a blood red PVC bandeau, which adds a futuristic look.
Point Blank AW16
Point Blank AW16
Point Blank AW16
AL – Scenography: The play of scales and clashing moods in the set design for showing the AW16 line brought to life the narrative of the collection. It was presented as an installation in two rooms. In the first room, the collection was presented with dreamy-looking models performing on the ‘stage’, an abstract interior setting in front of a perforated black backdrop that covered the windows. Daylight flooded through the backdrop perforations to create an image of starry space.
There was a slow-spinning circular table with a miniature alien landscape in the middle of the room. A camera was placed next to the landscape table filming in the direction of the ‘stage’ from a low perspective. The moving images captured by the camera were then live-fed into a projection in the second room in which the scale of the miniature landscape was blown up in the foreground and the models looked like they were on a planet. Visitors were asked to pick a room to enter upon arrival. Once they experienced one room, whether or not they were aware of the connection to the other room, they then swapped rooms and were often shocked by a completely different perspective, music and atmosphere of the same performance. This scenography was inspired by pre-digital special effects techniques used in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
What role does ‘messy’ have to play in your work and why?
YC: ‘Messy’ is an ideology for me to design freely and be rebellious against a conventional way of things or thinking. It does not mean physically messy but it is an attitude and idea I adopt. I’m very anal when it comes to tidying my personal space…
AL: Messy is a state of mind in which one is not afraid of making mistakes. It is about being shameless and confident with one’s own work. Fear is the biggest hindrance to creativity.
Point Blank AW16
Which designers – or people – do you admire and why?
AL: Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli – An architect I worked with in OMA. He is now a partner of OMA. He is still an inspiration for me today because of his leadership skills and unconventional way of designing. Also, Stanley Kubrick for his meticulous attention to detail, and mastery of drama.
Which other new designers are inspiring you?
YC: I like Ashley Williams and Claire Barrow’s work. Their work is fun and original.
Ashley Williams AW16
What’s the most important thing fashion has to offer the modern world?
YC: Sustainability. Our planet earth is dying in a slow and painful way and eventually the consequences of all irresponsible human activities will come back to us. The fashion industry has done so much harm to our environment – it is the second worst industry when it comes to producing industrial waste and most of it is disposed of irresponsibly in China and India. The big fashion conglomerates must become more responsible in taking care of the waste produced and treating their workers fairly.
AL: I think fashion has given a lot to the modern world but there is something that it has yet to deliver, which is very important – taking the lead in influencing the perception of beauty.
What words do you live by?
YC: If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.
AL: I am right, even if I am wrong.
Point Blank AW16 Backstage
Interview by Alexandra Pett