Zoom: Bowie Wong


Bowie Wong is an Australian fashion designer.
I met him last year for his first Couture presentation in the Louis Vuitton building on the Champs Élysées where I got to see a preview of the collection and again at the Serkan Cura show.

” Fashion is an art form.
It is an expression of ideas.
It is history… told by a visual storyteller.”
A : How can you describe your work ?
B : My work is very theatrical because I have a costume background. It is a bit more volume oriented compared to others. Not necessary like sequins, beading that kind of things but more like craftsmanship. And in terms of material, it’s about how to manipulate it.
A : What are your inspirations ?
B : I travel a lot, I travel about 200 days a year ! And when I travel I’m like a sponge, I see what’s going on around the world. I try to understand what surrounds me and it becomes my inspiration. Different cultures means different kind of charm. For this collection, if you look carefully it’s not really Japanese. It combines four elements : the cut, the architecture, the volume and the material. Then at the same time, sport elements were there, we can find swimsuits, gloves, legging etc. The material itself looks so Japanese but it is not because if you forget about the material, it’s actually very Western cut.
A : Which designers inspire you ?
B : I respect every designer. To be a designer is not an easy work. It’s very tough. If you find yourself you have a certain budget, you have to restrict some of your ideas because it will be too expensive to create and then no one will buy because it’s too expensive but when it’s too cheap, people won’t like it and also you have to think about some of the designers who have a commercial goal. If you work for a big company, they also find it difficult to listen to the boss because they are the financial guy to design the collection. It doesn’t matter if they are big designers who work for themselves or for a company, I respect them all. I cannot just pick one designer even though some people say ‘oh I don’t this designer, too commercial’, or anything but that is his work ! He has to be commercial to survive. But then other people say ‘I don’t get this designer, it’s not even wearable’ but that is his style ! (laughs) you can’t argue with that !A : What does that mean for you to create ?
B : In this commercial world, it’s very hard to survive as a small fashion house or fashion company because now, people are very into fast fashion. What do I mean by fast fashion ? They buy, they wear and then they chuck away, which only lasts one season if they’re lucky, or maybe two weeks only. This is what the new generation wants. They want to look fashionable all the time. As a couturier, we have to break the ice and at the same time you cannot let those commercial companies copy your style. So there’s a lot of things for example like Serkan Cura, you can’t copy the material because it is expensive, all crystal and fur. You can’t copy that. And if you copy that it will just look cheap and fake. My style is not based on pattern. It’s a lot of things based on draping, so again, people cannot easily copy my style because a lot is based on draping and stitching techniques. You can’t even find how I do the pattern. I am the only one who can describe the way I do it. As you could see at the show it is not even pattern.A : What does art mean for you ?
B : Art means… it’s a memory. It’s a story teller. A lot of people ask me why I want to be a couturier or a designer because it’s tough and not easy and my answer is very simple. I don’t want to be a coney to say ‘because it’s my mom’, I was surrounded by a lot of old people. And older people told me ‘when you get older Bowie, all you left is your memory’.

A : Do you have any advice for new designers or students who study fashion design ?
B : You really have to understand yourself first and then you have to know what your style is. Commercial or not. Then try to define yourself as a designer or an operator. By operator I mean that you work more for another company than for yourself because in the end it does cost a lot of money to be a designer. You have to be patient because you are building a brand, a company. It’s a lot of eye and stone, and marble, and work. We’re not building a sandcastle. And you don’t want to be a sandcastle, it’s just washed out in a minute.A : Do you have a memory or a souvenir you want to share ?
B : I do have a lot of memories. It’s really hard… I would say the first time I understood who I was and this is the best memory. A lot of people don’t understand who they are. Yes so the first time I realized who I was. Ask yourself you know, or ask people the same question : do you know who you are ? Most of the people don’t know ! Don’t waste your time and don’t waste your life !

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