In Hong Kong, The K11 MUSEA With The Victoria & Albert Museum Dazzle Viewers With ‘The Love Of Couture’ – Forbes

Adrian Cheng’s culture-meets-lifestyle concept in Hong Kong, K11 MUSEA, has collaborated with … [+] Victoria and Albert Museum in London to present a fashion exhibition which merges the old and new, the East and West.
“Being fueled by a passion for designing and creating is comparable to falling deeply in love, similar to an addiction,” says Oscar-nominated and internationally renowned Hong Kong Production Designer, William Chang Suk Ping. This addiction, this high from humanity’s most indulgent, dramatic, and pivotal emotion is the theme of the just-opened fashion exhibition titled, The Love of Couture: Artisanship in Fashion Beyond Time at Hong Kong’s K11 MUSEA.
The Love of Couture is an exploration of old and new, East and West, classic and modern told through the lens of couture. Its raison d’être is to promote dialogue and cultural exchange between the East and West, incubate talent, and support and elevate local artists and artisanship. Although, for Chang, the backbone of his exhibition design was a meditation on love itself.
The thematic concept of love was pulled from a Derek Walcott poem titled Love After Love and for Chang’s designs, he found his inspiration from the place within the body where love literally lights up–the brain. Chang’s key visual for bringing the exhibition’s theme to life was a brain scan whose synapses were lit up brightly from the emotion which were then highlighted in color. It was this almost-amorphous imagery which inspired the dramatic and labyrinthine environment for the exhibition; an environment which dares to visually represent the matrix of our minds, and then visualize that matrix in love. Then, within this representation, the viewer is invited to the exploration of couture.
“The exhibition presents centuries of exhibits together in one place, all linked by creativity and love,” Chang says.
The concept of the exhibition was to create a bridge between six of the most immensely talented … [+] up-and-coming Asian fashion designers and the historical fashion of the West.
When Chang speaks of centuries of exhibits he speaks of the premise of the show, which was created in tandem with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (who is also the exhibition’s co-chair). The concept was to create a bridge between six of the most immensely talented up-and-coming Asian fashion designers and the historical fashion of the West. The designers were asked to conceive mini-collections consisting of four pieces of contemporary couture based on eras of Western fashion from the Victorian era (1837-1901) through to the Golden Era of Couture (1950-1960).
“For the show at K11 MUSEA, we have 12 precious pieces from the V&A representing 200 years of women’s fashion from Western Europe. We also have six Asian designers creating new looks based on the V&A exhibit that inspired them, alongside their previous work,” explains Chang. “Structure, design, fabric, concept, the past, present and cultural backgrounds all come together, driven by a passion for designing and creating.”
This is hardly the first exhibition of this caliber which Chang has designed. He was the Artistic Director of one of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most important Costume Institute exhibitions, China: Through the Looking Glass. The intensity and detail-orientation of his work with China: Through the Looking Glass was captured in the 2016 documentary The First Monday in May about the famed Met Ball which supports and coincides with the Costume Institute’s exhibition.
The exhibition design was created by Academy Award Nominee William Chang Suk Ping who was also the … [+] Artistic Director for the Costume Institute’s China: Through the Looking Glass Exhibtion
More than a museum, though, K11 MUSEA is an ambitious idea by billionaire Adrian Cheng who is the visionary behind K11’s cultural-meets-commerce concept. Cheng has dubbed it “the Silicon Valley of Culture” as a way to encapsulate the culture-defining approach with which he conceives his real estate developments. Cheng is committed to creating properties which meld the arts, culture, and retail as to influence the exchange between East and West. It’s a vision which has employed installations, exhibitions, pop-up events and film screenings designed to feed the consumer desire for immersive experiences.
For Cheng, who has been one of Art News top 200 collectors for some time, there’s much more than consumer tastes at play with his K11 concepts. He is singlehandedly defining and promoting art in, and art from, Asia through his initiatives. In 2010, he established the K11 Art Foundation, a non-for-profit which promotes Chinese contemporary artists around the globe. Then, by establishing his art-driven lifestyle hubs such as K11 MUSEA, Cheng is defining the vernacular of Asian art at large within local Chinese populations. He was quoted in 2019 as describing art in China as “too market driven right now,” and without its own point of view, which he believes is a result of a lack of art education.
So in a region which had zero museums and galleries prior to his K11 concepts, people in China now enjoy high art in the most highly-trafficked places of them all–a shopping mall. This education and exposition of China’s masses to art while simultaneously exporting Chinese artists to the world via the K11 Art Foundation has helped achieve the cross-cultural, East meets West dialogue which has been Cheng’s goal. He’s essentially succeeded at molding the point of view on art which Cheng believes the region has lacked until know.
While The Love of Couture brings together the world’s heaviest hitters when it comes to culture, it does exist to highlight the most talented of emerging Asian fashion creatives. The six fashion designers asked to participate in the show possess incredible provenances and show the sort of promise and talent which deserves the light being shone upon them.
The exhibition opened on 8th December and will run until 23rd January, 2023. To explore the designers featured in the show, see below.
The clothes from his eponymous label, which he launched in the early 2010s as a student at National Chiba University, has been worn by the likes of Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. Known for his signature ruffle designs, his contributions to the exhibition include a voluminous skirt of cascading ruffles and a bodycon vest jacket.
Designer Tomo Koizumi
Even as an emerging designer, Okazaki already has already accumulated a slew of accolades under his belt. He was a finalist for the esteemed LVMH Prize in 2022, one of fashion’s most prestigious honors for an young designer in fashion. He was also named to Forbes’s 30 Under 30 list for Japan. His work is considered to be avant-garde and has covered the magazines Dazed and VOGUE Japan. Okazaki inorporates the theme of prayer into his work which is best described as intricate and sculptural. He holds a Master’s Degree of Fine Arts from the Tokyo University of the Arts.
Designer Ryunosuke Okazaki
Sensen Lii is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and his brand WINDOWSEN, which was founded in 2019, has already amassed an A-list clientele which include Rihanna, Katy Perry, Madonna, and Timothée Chalamet. In the K11 MUSEA exhibition, Lii presents three new pieces which joins the historical inspirations from the V&A with the drama and theatrics of contemporary fashion design.
Designer Sensen Lii
With Lizzo and singer-songwriter Melanie Martinez already her clients, this recent graduate of the prestigious Central Saint Martins College in London is the founder and Creative Director of her eponymous label. For her pieces in the Love of Couture show, Kwan took inspiration from the hourglass silhouette of a ball gown fom the 1960s and gave it a heavy technological update through the use of 3D printing and the creation of a skirt which is inflatable.
Designer Celine Kwan
Also a graduate of Central Saint Martins in knitwear, this Guangzhou-based designer launched her eponymous label in 2019. Her designs are described as architectural and revolve around the idea of “deconstructing and reconstructing men’s suits.” Qi is a proponent of design which values an elegant color palette and clean lines while exploring a mixture of materials, and she counts singers FKA Twigs and Lorde as fans. Through her four-piece mini collection for the exhibition, she challenges the idea of femininity through her work to present pieces which explore the conjunction of “refinement and rebellion.”
Designer Yuequi Qi
Another Central Saint Martins alumni, SoheePark is a couturier who hails from South Korea and whose work has been work by the likes of Ariana Grande, Cardi B, and Naomi Campbell. Her style evokes an ultra-feminine aesthetic which pays homage to the era of more classical ideas of beauty. She found inspiration in the details of an Yves Saint Laurent Polynésie evening dress from the V&A archive.
Designer Sohee Park