Samuel Xun: A Fashion Designer Creating Magnificently Sculptural Showpieces

To paraphrase George Orwell, if there's hope for the future, it probably lies with the next generation. Cynics may dismiss this as the rosy idealism of youth but hey, that can invigorate the imagination like nothing else. We spotlight seven up-and-coming Singapore students from different artistic disciplines whose works make us dream once more.

Here we talk to Samuel Xun, a 25-year-old fashion designer who is currently majoring in Fashion Design and Textiles at Lasalle College of the Arts

samuel xun

 

What is the Samuel Xun aesthetic?

I thoroughly enjoy a good showpiece; my main pieces are always sculptural pieces that indulge in satire. If it isn’t gag-worthy, I don’t bother.

Who or what inspires and informs your work?

I try to cast a wide net with inspiration, I don’t particularly fixate on an art movement or style. However, I guess a turning point in finding my design aesthetic was looking at the works of (American sculptor and artist) Robert Morris and his felt sculpture series. I was drawn to
his creative ethos of process art, in which the artist loosens control over his work. I try to incorporate that line of thought throughout my design process.

What would you say are common themes in your designs?

A recurring trope that occurs in my works is satire. I revel in the idea that my pieces mesh creative sensibility with outright ridiculousness. At the risk of sounding passe, my designs also try to negate the gender aspect of dressing as I feel that’s representative of how I view the world.

Empty Vessels, inspired by accents found in Chinese porcelain ware, explores the value of the decorative/ornamental in a digital age and of garments becoming objects and vice versa.

What is your approach to creating new works?

I focus quite a lot on the research aspect of my chosen topic, I think a thorough understanding of my inspiration informs my design and gives it depth. I can’t stress research enough, especially when we’re living in the sensitive age where you could be cancelled for anything. My design process also generally involves a lot of cutting and draping experiments, I believe that’s where most of the magic happens. With any of my works, I get a second opinion with my fashion media friends, they’re my harshest critics and I love them for it. I also live by this rule that if it looks like a student made it, I scrap it.

What materials, mediums and techniques are typically used in your works?

I don’t limit myself to any materials–except jersey. I hate jersey, working with jersey is all the pain, none the pleasure. Sure, I love a good T-shirt, but that’s all it should be for. With that, I do experiment with a wide range of materials: I iron, fuse, bend, pleat, sandwich, twist, weave, you name it. I love an interesting textile moment and have been trying to incorporate textiles more in my work.

The Ultimate Face Off (pictured above) was inspired by artist Michael Grater’s work, Paper Faces, and explores the notion of modesty and its relation to religious uniforms.

Biggest challenges in your field?

Opportunity. I notice a lot of young creatives that ‘escape’ across the globe trying to make it elsewhere but mostly end up back in Singapore. Having worked overseas in China as a result of a lack of opportunity locally, I realised the ball will always be in my court and if we don’t collectively do something, we’ll all starve. I’m incessantly frustrated with the way things are. The influx of fast fashion labels in Singapore has taught us one thing – there is money to be made. I’m also constantly appalled at how creative and non-creative agencies exploit creative talent. It’s 2020, payment in experience, meal allowances, brand prestige just don’t cut it any more.

How do you think you can contribute to your field?

I’ve always advocated self-expression and I put that mantra into my work. Especially in the context of Singaporean fashion, where we’ve been labeled negatively, I hope my work changes that. Ultimately, I would love to have a label based here that reaches a wide global audience.

Any upcoming projects that you’d like to share?

I’m working on my graduation collection right now, a 6-look flamboyant extravaganza inspired by the notions of celebrity, balloon sculptures and irony. I am extremely excited and working harder than ever to get it all done right.

This article first appeared in the March 2020 print issue of FEMALE. 

This article is originally published on Female Singapore.

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