Fresh out of Central Saint Martins, the London-based Singaporean designer takes on alien menswear with sculpted shapes and modern textiles
Based on an alien tribe of men from an imaginary planet, 21-year-old Singaporean designer Peir Wu's new Spring Summer collection for 2012 combines futuristic ideals with classic concepts of knitwear and tailoring. Now based in London, the Central Saint Martins graduate brings together sculptured bodices with modern knitted pieces for a utopian fantasy. Inspired by piano composer Phillip Glass, the new collection is her debut solo venture after working with the likes of Raf Simons in Antwerp. Dazed speak to Wu about her unique use of fabrics and shapes in her new work...
Dazed Digital: Do you have any preferences with materials/fabrics or does it rely on what your concept is?
Peir Wu: It really depends on what excites me at the moment in time. The material just has to feel right. When I start seeing possibilities with it. For my graduation collection I was absolutely obsessed with a rib jersey which had a lot of integrity to its form and structure and developed new unique finishings that are true and sensitive to the nature of the materials used. It's a very intense and intuitive process.
DD: Describe your latest collection?
Peir Wu: I envisioned a tribe of men on another planet not too different from ours, stripped of everything superfluous and much more focused about the way they lived. I reduced menswear into something that was based on the simplest components that I could think of. It was in kind of opposition to this very evolved wardrobe or this so-called formulaic way of designing a collection for men. Through the limitations of a completely pared down collection, I started to work intuitively with a different set of patterns and possibilities: the juxtaposition of a long sweater with subtle curves enhanced by belts worn in combination with carefully considered slits in the bodice.
It was almost a very primordial approach: focusing on the materials alone, very basic graphic shapes, and a very strong mood. I also developed a new textile technique: the rib knit looks as if it's coated with a thick layer of paint at first, but over time with wear, the top layer frays and wears thin or even frays off in chunks to reveal the base layer underneath. The result was a very engineered, emotional, and Utopian collection.
DD: What do you try to keep in mind during your creative process?
Peir Wu: I allow my ideas to grow in a very intuitive manner. It's an action reaction process: experimenting. building up. tearing down. I always keep in mind to stay calm during my creative process, this is very important for me to maintain a high level of intuition with my environment and work and a certain level of detachment allows me to solve problems rationally and creatively. However, I'm highly self-critical with the execution of the final product. It's great to experiment with and develop new techniques and silhouettes, but it's most important that the end result is flawless and effortless, worn and appreciated by a discerning crowd.
DD: Why did you choose menswear?
Peir Wu: I struggled when i had to decide between menswear or womenswear when i was offered a place in saint martins. menswear was a very nebulous path, but because i found it so alien it was exciting, so i went with my gut and took the plunge.
DD: Who are your favourite designers?
Peir Wu: Graziano Visintin, and most of the jewellers from the Padua School. David Watkins for his sustained invention and development in jewellery forms, materials and technologies. Ettore Sottsass - beautiful sketches full of intense colours. Theseus Chan of Werk. He makes such beautiful experimental printed matter: for one of his latest isssues, each cover is hand coloured using various medium like chalk, crayon and graphite. and the magazine was filled with drawings from psychedelic artist Keiichi Tanaami, so raw and surreal. Absolutely loved it.