The White Series: Mikyoung Ko, Edward Mendoza, Shunichiro Naka
Mikyoung Ko is a twenty-seven year old fashion print student from Incheon, South Korea. She has always been surrounded by artistic influences, and remembers spending a lot of time in galleries and exhibitions with her family when she was younger. “My mom studied Fine Art and has always been a huge inspiration to me. She is my best friend, but when I ask for her advice, she is extremely critical.” Mikyoung studied architecture before approaching fashion, as she had always loved observing buildings. But, she then says, “I could never get deeply involved. I made a big change and decided to study fashion, which I have always liked.”
When Mikyoung came to designing her garment for the show, she took inspiration from something very personal. “My garment is about the memories I have with my dog,” she tells us. Other than a puppy as part of the garment, her white show piece includes other accessories, like earmuffs. “I wanted to use some accessories to better represent my relaxed mood. So I made a headpiece with felt, which is more cosy and softer than cotton.”
“I was happy to work with white only. It has a strong power itself, as a colour. It allowed me to focus more carefully on the design.” Mikyoung seems to have loved working on the White Project; she confirms this by confessing that she kept on smiling during the whole process of making the garment. She confesses there’s something else that helps her while working. “I do not carry any lucky charm with me, but I believe in the luck of the moon. I often stare and talk to it. It makes me feel calm, because if I can see the moon, I don’t need to worry about losing myself.” Naturally, Mikyoung prefers to work at night, in silence, with the cold breeze coming from her open windows. As a final reflection on the project, she adds, “We all know that towards the end of the project, it is impossible to have any preferences: you just have to do it!”
Inspired by the documentary ‘Pumping Iron’ where Arnold Schwarzenegger is shown defending his title as Mr Olympia for the last time, Edward based his White Show project on the concept of self love and narcissism. Fascinated by the concept of bodybuilders’ training and sticking rigorously to gruelling regimes in order to become huge Titan-like figures, Edward likens them to Ancient Greek marble sculptures; there for the public to observe and admire, and questioning too whether perhaps these athletes think of themselves as Greek gods. Edward had real inspiration in his own family: his Grandfather was the 6th best heavyweight boxer in the 60’s, and he grew up with a bodybuilder named Elvis. Their fitness regimes and the self discipline needed to maintain an enviable physique, was a source of inspiration to Edward.
Admitting that his biggest challenge for the show was probably being overambitious with his idea, Edward originally wanted to create a huge bodysuit capable of transforming a skinny guy into a posturing muscled bodybuilder. With the aid of fabric and padding, he set out to create a fine figure of a man who’d give Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lou Ferrigno (the original 70s incredible hulk) a run for their money. Edward also explored the idea of creating a Grecian dress on top of the garment, inspired by the Ancient Greek sculptures he had looked at.
This project was the first time Edward had pattern cut independently, and although he had some previous experience of making garments with the help of mentor Linda Brooker, a dressmaker and former CSM student from the 80s, he confesses he found this part challenging. After a week of garment construction classes, Edward was left to then make his final piece. He says he felt time was his enemy, a common theme for the white show designers. Excited by history, tribes and subcultures, this designer finds daily inspiration in music, especially heavy metal and rock. A self confessed Joan Jett obsessive, he describes how refreshing he finds her maverick attitude (“she fought through all the bullshit”) and admits that if he could only collect one thing, it would be Joan Jett memorabilia.
Shunichiro Naka is not exactly a newbie to the fashion world: the twenty-five year old Japanese student already holds a degree in Fashion Styling from Bunka College. When asked about his biggest dream he said, “I want to work with my father,” as his family works in the fashion industry, and he himself began modelling at the age of seventeen. Once Shunichiro moved to London, he met designer Barnsley Armitage, for whom he worked as an assistant; making and experimenting with design.
Curious about his inspiration for the white project, we find out that he gets ‘inspired from everything’, and that his ideas usually come from the past. Traditional Japanese accessories are the most important elements to his practice and were essential to his White Show garment. His project was inspired by the functionality of bondage: he used the silhouette of a military m-65 field jacket and added an ‘igote’ to it, which he defines as “a traditional Japanese archery protector.”
Using only white within his project has not proven to be challenging, as he frequently uses the non-colour for his samples. He chose to consider the theme as an opportunity for exploration, as opposed to something that could hinder his practice. However, he admits he has worked on a similar project while studying at Bunka College in Tokyo. Naka’s previous studies influenced his present work, as his prior projects were based on the experiences gained from working as stylist. “Styling is based on lifestyle and it helped me to think about how people actually wear clothes. Basically, what I am doing now is not different from that time, but a designer can have a wider range of approaches to fashion.”
Words Teresa Fogolari and Lily Mcgonigal