Phillip Lim's current obsession is the Cut Up, a technique used by William S. Burroughs and Dadaist poets to alter reality. A Cut Up relies on pre-existing material that is edited and altered, stripping the original content of its context and deriving meaning from its systematic reassignment. Lim used tailoring techniques like Fold Ins and attached layers, irreverent layers of floral print and abstract graphic tees to attractively and smartly stack seemingly dissonant references into one look. It's about re-imagining existing archetypes and finding new ways to derive meaning from what we already recognise. What combinations of paratactic references create enough tension to spark a dialogue? Especially in a fast moving Wikipedia world of peripheral understanding, all you have sometimes is the combination of superficial keywords matched together in a Dada poem: Floral Frankie Says Relax Bitch Grunge Huarache Gladiator Flower Power City Slicker Girl On The Go Look.
Dazed Digital: How did you get into Dadaist writing and Cut Up?
Phillip Lim: It actually started with music, and then I researched it and found out it was that. Music like Nirvana and Radiohead, then I found out it was from David Bowie actually, he started in the 70s and Kurt Cobain was heavily influenced by Bowie. It's how Radiohead, with Kid A, wrote that whole album, by Cutting it Up. That was also a big influence from William S. Burroughs, in the 50s, and the 50s took it from the 20s.
DD: A lot of that comes up from the street as well...
Phillip Lim: It's amazing because of course, the street kids, they don't know this history, and nowadays, especially with technology, you don't even care about history, you just look at what's there. What's interesting is the links, the linking of everything. You know when they say nothing's new anymore, it's so true. It's just how you repurpose it.
DD: What are the links in this collection that you're pulling all together on one string?
Phillip Lim: I am pulling together everything we've done before, and I would say our girl is the modern day dandelion and the boys are the dandies. They're like peacocks, they pull everything together and they assemble, repurpose something new.
DD: Dada is a lot about making a statement, especially in a public setting. What kind of statement do you think these pieces are making?
Phillip Lim: I think the statement today was something different from New York Fashion Week. It's really kind of like evolving minimalism. There were elements of it still in there to make it more clean but the statement was "look". If you go back and look at pictures, read what it said, it's subliminal. You'll see it.