How the clothes you design encompass designing experience for a wearer?
I propose possible solutions in my designs. By creating stimulating environment for the wearer to address an issue, to explore and embrace their emotions, I am designing for them to feel and to experience through the medium of fashion. I always like to think that I am collaborating with my audience to create fashion. Without their interactions with the clothes, the secrets and utilitarian aspects built within lose meaning and function. Ultimately, the meaning and purpose of my designs are established through preforming these special features. “Monologue” emphasizes on withdrawing from chaos and misery in order to focus on oneself entirely, through the expansion of portable spaces to create temporary isolation with the outer world. The experience designed, is the process of stabilizing and recovery of one’s mood. This experience is translated visually through the physical action of transforming the garments by the wearer. Depending on the spectrum of privacy desired, the coverage can then be adjusted accordingly. Going back to being the dominator of one’s life, the wear decides which form to display the garments in and how much privacy they need from the garments. All the materials are chosen based on the sensory experience: neoprene for it cushioning and comfort, silk organza provides visibility while allowing enough coverage for privacy, wool jersey is non-restrictive and soft to touch which connotes lounge wear. The series of movements promote the physicality of setting boundaries between oneself and the surrounding. The evolution from expanding the safe spaces within garments to fully submerging oneself into the created structure to eventually closing the spaces is a literal performance that represent the process of recovering.
“By creating stimulating environment for the wearer to address an issue, to explore and embrace their emotions, I am designing for them to feel and to experience through the medium of fashion.”
As your collection explores transformable garments, could you elaborate more about it?
Children pop-up books illustrate fantastical stories within the pages of interactive paper structures, with the power to carry the readers into one’s playful imagination. That is exactly the objective of “Monologue”- fabricating a lighthearted environment for temporary withdrawal from reality. The transformation within each garment references structures applied to pop-up books; all with the intention to create a temporary void. From an expandable sleeping bag intergraded into a neoprene dress, coat with extendable collar which conceals the face, blazer transforms from standing collar to face shield…etc, all of which constructed only with tailoring materials to ensure wearability and comfort. The emphasis is placed on portability and efficiency of the expansion and the effectiveness of creating privacy. Following the rules of pop-ups, when layers are expanded, structure built within automatically emerges without any labor of setting up. I wish my designs are as story pop-up books, inviting with the magic to bring joy and hope while helping the audience illustrate their own stories.
Could you share some memories from your time pursuing BFA in fashion design at Parsons School of Design?
The top 3 things all fashion students complain about are always pulling all-nighter, investing on materials whilst going broke and lacking social life. However, now being out of school, I miss all things I dreaded. Then, my only focus was my work. During the process, modifications is only a natural course, hence the endless all-nighters. My birthday is always before mid-terms, one of the busiest times in students’ lives. I remember both my 20th and 21st birthdays were spent in Openstudio with friends. Starting on the night before my birthday, we would be working on our projects, and right before the bakery next door shuts for the day, we ran to buy cakes and coffee. When the clock stroke 12, we thew off works on hands, lit the candles and sang birthday song. For only a brief 10 minutes, we had cakes while gulping down too much coffee, chatted and laughed. Once the time was up, we resumed to work. Taking turns napping in the school’s library or studio when we needed a quick recharge. We would just be working frantically until the next time the clock stroke 12 at midnight, when my day was officially over. This overly excessive experience happened to be one of the most memorable of my four years at Parsons. I enjoy spending time with the like-minded; sacrificing parts of ourselves for what we believe will make us whole. Parsons is like my second home in New York, figuratively and literally.
“I remember both my 20th and 21st birthdays were spent in Openstudio with friends. Starting on the night before my birthday, we would be working on our projects, and right before the bakery next door shuts for the day, we ran to buy cakes and coffee.”
Discover Joyce Li's full collection
Words by Katarzyna Korcz