By Jennifer Di
VANCOUVER — With the recent developments in politics around the world and words like “dystopian” being thrown about, it’s no wonder that George Orwell’s book 1984 has become the inspiration for several creative projects. Such is the case for Alex S. Yu, a Vancouver fashion designer who’s quickly rising to international acclaim with his eponymous label.
“1984 is one of my favourite books, and I re-read it every now and then,” Yu, who graduated from Blanche MacDonald Centre and trained at the London College of Fashion before launching his line in 2014, says. “As I was planning for my AW16 collection, I was reading the book, and the Canadian and Taiwanese government were both going through elections. I felt very inspired by the idea of Vox populi, government vs. people.” As someone based out of both countries, it was a timely association for young designer. His new collection, The Artificial Promise, is a reflection of that. “Governing party hopefuls make all these crazy and unrealistic promises to people just so they will vote for them,” he continues, “but as soon as they’re voted in, more or less, they forget about their promises.”
Yu’s collection visually blends the concept of dystopian society with his own dream-like thoughts. To achieve this aesthetic, Yu added pops of bright colour to what most would expect to be a fairly gray-based palette. It makes for a striking look that offers more than what first meets the eye.
“Colours have always been a vital factor in my designs,” Yu says. “1984 was a starting point for inspiring the collection, but it wasn’t based entirely on the book. I still put bits and pieces of ‘me’ into it.” He worked with a large variety of fabrics, focusing on heavy knits, denim, and heavy satin. “The fabrics are heavier because it was an AW16 collection,” he explains. “For each garment, there was a combination of various textures merged into one.”
For anyone familiar with 1984, you would know it is not a book based on promoting individuality and freedom of creativity — two very important aspects when creating a fashion line. When asked how this uniform concept fit into his uniquely cut designs, Yu responds, “I wanted to create a contrast of individuality and uniform. And also, more strongly, a feeling of restriction in my collection. So I used an abundance of straps, clips, buckles to tighten the garment on parts of the body that make the model’s movement restricted.”
Restricted, yes, but in this case it is artistic freedom.
Alex S. Yu’s AW16 collection, The Artificial Promise, can be seen online at www.alexsyu.com.Alex S. Yu, BC, British Columbia, dystopia, fashion, fashion design, The Artificial Promise