Yes. EUGENE LIN!
This up and comer, scratch that, the new designer Eugene specialises in producing sophisticated womenswear, he launched this first collection in 2010 with Harmatia and has since blessed us with three more collections.
All [collections] of which, I feel have been a graduation of the next, taking the idea of fitted, slim silhouettes a step up and including his present emotion. Eugene keeps it simple so it suits the body but not boring (just look at the colours and the cuts).
The Singapore born but London based designer answered some questions for lostintalent (see below) and guess what? I love his guy! He is brilliant and blunt; he paints just the right picture of the fashion world (it's not all fabulous parties and champagne), okay I'll stop typing now!
I present to you, my cyber interview with Eugene Lin, enjoy, I sure did!
Tell us a bit about yourself and the brand Eugene Lin, how did you get started in fashion, who inspired you to start out:
I never woke up with some epiphany of a career choice. I was in junior college back in Singapore and really bad at Math, and so I was told to take Art as an ‘A’ Level subject instead. The project was fashion illustration and going into that made me research and fall in love with fashion. I applied to Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design with that portfolio (and a lot of guts) and was accepted straight into the BA Fashion Design Womenswear course – the most sought-after undergraduate course in the college, without having to do a foundation year. I had to serve in the Republic of Singapore army before I could go do my course, so I spent whatever time I had reading and researching designers.
It was the mid-90s and the golden era of British Fashion. McQueen, Chalayan and Arkadius were staging incredible shows in London and Paris, and they captured my imagination – the perfect product: it had theatre, it had exclusivity, it produced great commercial product, the marriage of art and business.
I always knew even when I was in my teens that I wanted to build my own label. It was never a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’. I graduated at the start of the recession, and design jobs in fashion were already difficult to find like gold dust. I thought I might be happy working for others but the more I did it, the more I felt unfulfilled. Coupled with the fact I saw a couple of ‘labels’ which were utterly talentless and getting away with making shit clothes because they had great PR. I thought : fuck this, I can do better than that shit. So I did.
What does Fashion mean to you?
Fashion as a subject is an interest to me on so many superficial and psychological levels, but fashion as a career is my way of channelling my creativity and aesthetic via the marriage of design and business.
‘Harmatia’ Spring/Summer 2010 was inspired by the theological-definition of ‘sin’, not as a verb but its literal translation ‘to miss the mark’. It featured a lot of subtle deconstruction, with collars melting into the bodice and lapels folded and pinched. ‘The Gordian Knot’ Autumn/Winter 2010 was inspired by the Greek myth of the same name, and featured plenty of drapes incorporating knots, even on heavy thick showpiece coats. ‘The Vanishing Twin’ Spring/Summer 2011 was inspired by the medical condition ‘vanishing twin syndrome’ where a featus develops within the body of its twin. That collection had featured pieces with extra appendages growing out of it, jacket-waistcoat hybrids and trousers with ingrown waistbands. The forthcoming collection ‘Medusa’ Autumn/Winter 2011 was inspired by (you guessed it) the Greek myth, but also the psychological symbolism of Medusa as the personification of concealed female rage. That collection had digital prints on garments that faded to make it look like the wearer was turning into stone, along with elements of python skin contrast against my signature silk jersey.
Who is the girl you design for? Who is in your head when you begin the whole process?
I do not have a fixed muse, but rather a series of ‘mood muses’ which change with each collection, but still retain the core of the Eugene Lin woman who is confident, discreet and elegant. Each collection has a different mood depending on how I am feeling at the time which ranges from happiness (S/S10) to rage (A/W11), because like my inspirations, I believe all emotions are equal and just as valid of representation and indeed women are such complex figures it would be pathetic and condescending to only design for a one-dimensional muse. My clients have been mostly patricians – women holding high-positions such as film directors, art gallery curators, senior managers etc who appreciate the cut, fit and luxury of Eugene Lin over the obscene logo-mongering labels out there. Very much like myself, they know who they are and are confident enough to wear my clothes, not be dictated by others.
Could you run us through your method of designing? A typical day in the Lin studio maybe
Each collection for me starts with researching the chosen theme/story for the season. No clothes just yet, just reading and gathering as much information, text and images related to it as possible and feeling for the spark.
My work tends to be based around texts, classic or contemporary, and I look up the original text where possible and the supporting literary commentary with it. From there, I pick a few strong ideas which I feel I can translate into clothes, before researching previous collections, anything from the 20’s to the present, and going through my own archives and seeing what sold well or caught press attention.
I then sketch out the key pieces of the collection, and constantly look and re-work the line up from then on all the way until the clothes get presented, either on catwalk or look book. It is a constant balancing act, getting the colour theme, hem lines, silhouettes to sit next to each other and editing and re-editing the line-up. Each addition or subtraction, change of colour, length, size, changes the overall composition, and it has to sit together as a whole, yet be individual enough so that buyers can buy into it as a capsule collection for their stores. It has to push the boundaries enough to further my own work, yet hold the signature cut and aesthetic the line is known for.
While all of that is going on, it is a brutal slog of just pattern cutting, sewing the toiles, fitting, re-fitting and repeating the process over and over until the garment is perfect, while juggling ordering of fabrics, production time lines etc. For people who do not appreciate the technicality of a designer cut, they would not understand the incredible amount of effort it takes to create a collection of international standard. Then again, it is not a loss to me as my customers and fans of the line are far more intelligent than that. I don’t need a customer who whines about the price while clamouring after some insipid ‘must have’ dress from some over-hyped designer anyway.
What do you want your clothes to stand for? Do you have a back ground message you want to convey?
A Eugene Lin trademark is the creative cut and perfect fit of a Eugene Lin piece. It sounds generic and simplistic compared to ‘I only use black’ or ‘I make wacky showpieces’, but the way a designer cuts is really incredibly personal and identifiable like handwriting – that is why designers who are not technically skilled always have a (sometimes professional, more often not) generic, high-street feel to their clothes, simply because some pattern cutter has interpreted their clothes, however successfully or not. It is like an artist who communicates his vision aurally to a painter who then puts it on canvas.
Not Eugene Lin. The level of attention I pay to cut, constant re-fitting is evident as soon as my clients put on my pieces, they can not only see it but more importantly feel the craftsmanship, which is at the heart and soul of my signature slim, elegant yet contemporary silhouettes.
What is your all time favourite piece from Eugene Lin? And Why?
I do not have a favourite. As cheesy as it sounds, it really is like asking to choose a favourite child. But I do have a bias towards my draped and printed coats and jackets across all 4 seasons. Nobody else I know seems to be doing outerwear like that.
Who is your favourite designer?
I admire very technically focused designers. The late Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Haider Ackermann.
Does your personal style/taste (could you include a description of your personal style?) get translated into your designs? Or do you have a design alter ego?
Yes of course. My personal aesthetic is very pure, clean and elegant but always with a subtle detailing in terms of cut, or an interesting print. I am not an accessories person, and my fuss-free style can sometimes be described as being relaxed, which is something that carries through to my work in that my pieces are designed to have that ‘wow’ impact when you put it on, not have to resort to piling on lots of other objects/layers to look great. I do not have a design alter ego. I am my brand, and because I know it inside out, I can deliver a cohesive, consistent message through my aesthetic.
What is the most exciting or surreal experience that you’ve had in your career as a designer?
There have been so many great moments, even when I was studying and interning. I remember when I was interning at Vivienne Westwood and I went to Milan to dress for the MAN show, we crashed the Dolce & Gabbana party that evening where Pharrell was giving a private concert, and seeing Anna Wintour in the flesh backstage when I was dressing for Preen. That was all nice but the most significant point in the last few years I would say was the point where I just sat down and dived head first into the label. It was a very difficult decision because it really takes over your whole life and means you sacrifice far more than you may have originally intended to in order to realise your dream. But I am glad I did it.
Do you have any projects in the works? Could you give us a hint?
I am currently working on my Spring/Summer 2012 collection to be exhibited at Paris Fashion Week in October 2011.
What are the aspirations for your label? Where do you want to take your brand?
I would like to build an internationally recognisable brand with an emphasis on cut and contemporary craftsmanship within the next decade. It would be nice to expand into menswear (so that I can wear my own pieces and satisfy the many, many men which ask me to do so) and maybe accessories but the focus and direction must be in line with the brand ethos.
Three words that describes your brand....
Sophisticated, chic, elegant
What has been the overall response to the Eugene Lin brand?
The first 3 collections marked a trilogy of the brand as very deliberately commercial, and the commercial response to such a new brand in an economic recession was moderate, the brand was stocked by 7 stockists and performed particularly well in the UK. However, it was not getting the press coverage and it was not until the change in direction towards a more design-driven label with ‘Medusa’ AW11 that I felt that the brand really evolved into what I had always wanted it to be. Since then, the press has really taken to it like wildfire and the big-store buyers have started to take the brand seriously.
Wise WordsFashion is a brutal beast: it does not care for excuses or reasons, just that you deliver the goods It does not care what you have had to overcome, or what you will need to overcome to do it. Just. Deliver. The. Goods. Do not think that just because you made it through college that the industry or world suddenly owes you something: it does not. Even if you graduate from CSM, Karl Largerfeld is not going to bow at your feet while Alber Elbaz bunny hops you down the yellow brick road to Anna Wintour who will crown you creative director of Gucci. If you want to make things just to satisfy your ego or creativity, that is all fine and well – go be a fine artist, because fashion is a business whether you like it or not and if you cannot handle the business aspect, learn, or get a business partner. Otherwise you can just go home and play with your Barbie dolls because nobody is going to take you seriously. Wake up, and realise that it is nothing but hard, hard work, a lot of sacrifice and making the right business decisions at the right time. Think long and hard about why you really want to design, especially under your own name because it is going to be one hell of a fight. And if you make it, the rewards are heavenly.
Click here for pictures of Eugene Lin's 'Medusa's collection'
How much did you love Eugene's honesty?
What do you guys think about the 'Medusa' collection?