‘I want to tell fashion to ‘FUCK OFF’,’ says Xavier Kaiqi Chen. ‘When I consider the challenges of fashion, what comes to mind is how difficult it is to permeate the industry whilst behaving sustainably.’ Turning to the performative and abstract, the BA Fashion Print designer’s final collection has emerged from the very real angst and uncertainty that many young creatives in fashion feel so strongly.
‘I agonise about how I have learned to embrace this industry and how that love is unreciprocated. I worry about spending thousands of pounds and investing hours into my work when others take household items, use them unconventionally and produce mass hysteria on social media,’ Chen explains. Using inflatable garments and their interaction with water to express this unease, the designer turned to Jeff Koons’ balloon sculptures, set design by Jon Kessler, and Daniel Firman’s inflatable garments for inspiration.
The result is a wacky, larger-than-life collection, dripping in irony, illustrative of a reluctance to grow up and disdain for an historically exclusive, unimpressed industry. ‘No diving!’ shouts an oversized rubber duck and swimsuit, an inflatable skull with a black latex bodysuit mocks fashion’s sensibility, a blow-up safety jacket with a Hello Kitty motif, an inflatable heart with a white latex bodysuit and a colourful JPEG sculpture all flash the middle finger to our beloved industry. A battle of give and take, love and loathe.
Following graduation, Chen plans to do an MA in Digital Animation with the hope of establishing his own fashion brand.
Ellie June Goodman