Toying with the concept of a dominatrix mamma's boy in his latest collection, this student designer discusses how bravery should stand in the way of everything
He may only be in his second year at the Antwerp Academy but Edmund Ooi is already making waves within the fashion industry. Ooi, 24, who comes from Malaysia, is adamant that age will not define him and with that, will always remain 20 at heart. Holding dear a love of mental bondage, he describes the feeling of relief and satisfaction after tons of stress and the continued rush of adrenaline. His favourite food is crab but loves any good food except green vegetables because green is not his favourite colour. Thus, a vegetable-free diet is Edmund's diet.
Dazed Digital: How did you become involved in fashion?
Edmund Ooi: To start from the beginning, it was my mum. She was a tailor when I was young. i then became involved later by receiving a scholarship for my tailoring due to my training in Malaysia. Thanks to that! Otherwise, I would be stuck in front of a table doing accounting.
DD: What's the concept behind your collection?
Edmund Ooi: The collection started from the idea of a mamma's boy. The fact that he is always being bullied and teased by other boys in the school because of his sassiness. It was based on the atmosphere of the mamma's boy playing dress up in his mum's closet to become a dominatrix woman, enabling him to dominate and punish the bad boys. In this collection I am playing a lot with the contrast of the classic mother image and the hardcore dominatrix elements.
I try to coordinate the element of dressing up in my designs to look for shapes and cuts, usually making a toile or a shape then I start playing with it in front of the mirror as i'm wearing it. Another element in this collection was trying to find a balance between making them wearable yet being as creative as possible.
DD: What materials do you find the most interesting to work with?
Edmund Ooi: All the materials are interesting to work with. It always depends on how you treat it to make wonders with it!
DD: Why did you choose Antwerp for your fashion training?
Edmund Ooi: The Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Art is amazing. Before I entered the school I had always adored the braveness of the students and the freedom of which they exerted. From what I've learned so far, the most intriguing part is the process of finding yourself, and once your teachers start to see that, they will really guide you towards the right path and push you to boundaries you never knew you could achieve.
DD: Who would be your ideal icon to wear your clothes?
Edmund Ooi: David Bowie. And I would also love to see Justin Bieber in my clothes too!
DD: Do you have anyone in mind when you are designing?
Edmund Ooi: Frankly, I am designing this collection based on myself. And yes, I am a mama's boy! Just not a hardcore mama's boy.
DD: Who are your favourite designers?
Edmund Ooi: I adore all the designers who are brave and true to themselves, but in a more practical way, I love the works of Cristobal Balenciaga; It's amazing how he constructed his garments. Nicolas Ghesquière did a fantastic job to modernize and influence for the future! And of course Thierry Mugler in the 80's and 90's.
DD: What are your plans for the future?
Edmund Ooi: I would love to work for some big designers in order to gain experience and of course, like any other designer’s dream, to start my own label.
DD: What advice would you give to upcoming design undergraduates?
Edmund Ooi: Challenge yourself in every aspect. Be Brave!
DD: What makes you happy?
Edmund Ooi: My boyfriend and my cat who’s name is cat!
DD: What makes you sad?
Edmund Ooi: When I run out of cigarettes.