Representing the creative future

A Tale of Transsexuals: Chin’s SS16 Menswear Collection

This article first appeared on Dazed Digital as a part of our collaborative series on emerging talent.

As societal constraints of gender seemingly drop like flies, the rules of dressing are being called in to question. Recent Central Saint Martins graduate, Chin, illustrates these blurred lines in the SS16 collection for his eponymous label.  Swinging straps, exposed skin and zips suggest fetishism, as does Chin’s research. Black and white images, including a woman on all fours chained by her neck to a bedpost, and a man wearing nothing but heels as he gives the camera a smouldering stare, make up the designer’s inspiration. These gritty images translate into pieces saturated with seduction. A delicate pink, strapless top ties in the centre of the chest, leaving the split sides to act as a curtain, putting the navel centre stage, while a splash of glamour comes in the form of a sheer embroidered jacket that ties at the neck.

“I LOVE THAT PEOPLE NOWADAYS HAVE MORE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE WHO THEY WANT TO BE. IT’S DEFINITELY COOL TO SEE A MAN IN WOMENSWEAR.”

“I changed nearly the entire collection three weeks before the lookbook shoot,” admits Chin, “I realised that I disliked most of the things I had developed.” Leaving behind several pieces with sequins, prints and embroidery, what is left is a more raw approach to glamour that echoes the designer’s main source of inspiration, Christer Strömholm’s “Les Amies de Place Blanche.” The book offers portraits of transsexuals in late 1950s to  early ‘60s Paris. These women frequented the city of lights’ red-light district in hopes of saving up the money to travel to Casablanca and undergo an operation to complete their transition. “I really loved the world under Christer’s camera. It’s sleazy, yet stylish. This image is what I want the collection to look like. Not necessary sleazy, but definitely with a strong, sexual vibe to it,” remarks the Taiwanese designer. There is certainly no lack of sexuality with an abundance of cut outs and plunging necklines, lending itself to the question, what type of men are ready for these clothes? Chin imagines clients who “are more adventurous in what they are wearing,” clearly, but also “a character that enjoys showing multiple sides of their personality. A real person who is true to their emotions.” It may take a bit of a sense of adventure to don a sleeveless pink and black coatdress, but there seems no reason anyone should shy away from the Prada-esque trousers with exposed stitching, no?

“I DEFINITELY WANT TO CREATE CLOTHES FOR MEN WHO ARE MORE ADVENTUROUS IN WHAT THEY ARE WEARING.”

Chin, having trained in womenswear in Taiwan before coming to Central Saint Martins, has said that the vast majority of his research is based on female clothing. But, as the lines between the two worlds begin to dissolve, where does he see his collection on the gender spectrum? “I consider myself as a menswear designer,” asserts Chin. “Even though the clothes I have created are quite feminine, it still is menswear. I love that people nowadays have more freedom to choose who they want to be. It’s definitely cool to see a man in womenswear. But what I am offering is still menswear that is for a certain audience or specific occasions.” He doesn’t believe his utilisation of fabrics such as lace or organza is a gendered choice, citing Jonathan Anderson and Donatella Versace as other purveyors of unencrypted textiles in their menswear.

The ship has unfortunately sailed to see a young Leonardo Dicaprio, the designer’s muse, modelling these looks. Nonetheless, this collection’s compilation of “sexy, classic and calm,” is a wonderfully balanced reflection of the androgynous present.

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