Louis Shengtao Chen describes his work as ‘surreal, delicate and joyful.’ The young Beijing-born designer has worked at Loewe and Kiko Kostadinov and is graduating from BA Fashion Print with a collection he describes as a sartorial expression of ‘extremely erotic fragility.’ The 2020 winner of the LVMH Grand Prix and BFC scholar, Chen conceptualised his collection after a visit to La Specola where he was captivated by ‘the great silence of waxen Venus.’ George Hodel – a Black Dahlia murder suspect who emulated Man Ray’s surrealist aesthetic – haunts Chen’s kaleidoscopic creations. Printed hair samples reminisce Gerhard Richter’s gestural brushstrokes and deconstructed, sculptural silhouettes – proposing surrealist body deformations – evoke Man Ray’s play with shadows. ‘The obsession with the human body reflects a morbid but romantic fascination with fetish. The poetic manifestation of violence is my collection’s tone,’ the designer says. Chen’s diverging surrealist narratives unify in Mika Kailes’s ethereal film.
Nini Barbakadze, BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism