Japanese dance duo AyaBambi star in new fashion film

Created in collaboration with designer Leonard Wong, this film is a tale of yin and yang, and the search for immortality

This season, Chinese designer Leonard Wong explored the idea of immortality, and it’s an exploration that’s led him to collaborate with with dance duo AyaBambi on a fashion film. Wong first encountered the duo, which is made up of Aya Sato and Bambi, on a photo shoot and was immediately enamoured with them, describing their “aura, style and aesthetic” as the “perfect match” for his designs.

But this isn’t the dancers’ first foray into fashion – they’ve previously modelled for Alexander Wang and Hussein Chalayan, and are quick to highlight the similarities between the two mediums. “With every move, stance and position, we take the utmost care in conveying a message or feeling,” they explain. “We believe that fashion does the same – when the dance and the clothes tell the same story they enhance and enthral.”

Off the back of their new project with Wong, we speak to the designer about the film and his preoccupation with immortality.

How would you describe your vision?

Leonard Wong: I try to maintain a balance between elegance and strength in every piece I design. I was born in China and studied in Japan so I have seen both unique cultures first-hand, and thus been inspired to integrate both traditional styles into my designs.

What references are in your designs?

Leonard Wong: I’ve been heavily influenced by Hollywood and anime since I was a child; my imagination resides in surreal fantasy. When designing, I filter my life experiences, philosophy and emotions through that world.

Can you explain the concept behind the film?

Leonard Wong: It’s about the discovery of the Philosopher’s Stone, the bestower of immortality. The stone mutates rock into iron and merges humans with animals; it’s represented by a woman in white emerged from liquid stone and shedding her identity to transmute into yin and yang. The two elements fight and clash until they meld into something new.

Why were you specifically drawn to symbols of immortality?

Leonard Wong: I’m always experimenting and exploring when I design the ‘Experimental Line’, trying to merge conflicting ideas or transforming something into its opposite and catching it in the middle of metamorphosis. The search for timeless designs (aka ‘Magnum Opus’ – immortality) is my true goal, and I realised there were more than a few similarities between my goal and the goal of Alchemy – figuratively speaking, of course.

“My imagination resides in surreal fantasy. When designing, I filter my life experiences, philosophy and emotions through that world” – Leonard Wong

How important is the conceptual element within your work?

Leonard Wong: For me, that always comes later. I draft a design without thinking where it’s coming from and let it unfold by itself. It’s like being in a lab without knowing what chemicals you’re mixing together, it’s very unpredictable.

Why is tradition important to you?

Leonard Wong: History and tradition are importact factors in our lives. We wouldn’t be here without them, and we shouldn’t forget that. When I design I try and take the old and warp it into something new without losing the air of its atmosphere.

Why is film a good medium for your work?

Leonard Wong: Film has become a flexible and timeless medium. You can travel back and forth in time and be engulfed in a new world by looking at a screen. If done right, it becomes a personal experience for its audience – this is why I find film such a marvellous way to show my designs.

Directed by BFV / INSIDE FLESH, Visual Direction by Leonard Wong, Performers Sylvia Lajbig and AyaBambi