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Julian Louie S/S 09

Julian Louie channels baroque athleticism for his first solo presentation.

PhotographyMark ReayTextMengly Taing
Julian Louie first piqued the interest of fashion editors and writers everywhere when Francisco Costa hand selected him to be his protégé. As a participant in the prestigious Protégé Project, Louie worked closely with Costa to produce his first collection, which was shown as part of a group showcase in Florence earlier this year. It was no surprise that the young self-taught designer would attract attention at his first individual show. His Protégé collection was a prelude of what was to come. And as the fashion world looked on, it was clear Louie looked no further than home.

For spring, the California native mixed sporty materials and structured silhouettes with touches of opulence. Racer-front dresses with plastic zippers were heavily adorned with Swarovksi crystals. Contrasting neutrals were paired with shades of blue and purple to add a soft touch to the clean lines of the collection. The layering of colors on certain pieces, such as a neoprene vest, created the illusion of scales and contours, while ruffle details made from silk faille on skirts and the bottom of dresses suggested fins and added volume.

Among the sea of new designers that emerge each season, Louie is a talent that will surely rise. In addition to launching his own line, Louie was also part of the design team for TSE’s spring collection. And if he gets it his way, he’s going to keep on doing what he’s doing.

Dazed Digital: What was the inspiration behind your collection?
Julian Louie: It’s about finding tension between elements. I grew up in a small surf town in California called Santa Cruz. This collection goes back to the mood and the offhandedness of that culture with plastic zips and scuba elements and contrasting that with very old French fabrics.

DD: This collection, like your Protégé collection, is a mix of high and low elements. Is this contrast important to you?
JL: Tension is important. You always need to have that. It gives you room to experiment in a variety of ways. You can experiment with lofty ideas. You can experiment with incredible luxury. You can experiment with different materials. But then to add something that cuts it all down. Contrast is important. Otherwise, your collection is going to be one note or one line.

DD: You used a very interesting selection of colors. What was the inspiration behind your spring palette?
JL: It was loosely inspired by one of my favorite paintings in New York, Tiepolo’s Perseus and Andromeda, at the Frick Gallery. It’s all these interesting neutrals and these unexpected shots of pop color, but even the pop colors are dusted out. It has a very baroque feeling to it.

DD: You are very in touch with fashion and art. Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
JL: Not always. It was something that I was interested in, but never really took seriously. I think moving to New York changed that. This atmosphere lets you indulge in it a little bit. I went to architecture school and those interests shifted.

DD: How has your background in architecture influenced your work?
JL: I feel like fashion and architecture are parallel disciplines. I see them as very similar. It’s basically a scale change. My mental process is kind of the same. Whether it’s about architecture and fashion, it’s about construction and shape and proportion and texture.