5 posts tagged "Steven Tai"
Last weekend, London-based designer Steven Tai headed to the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography. As the 2012 winner of the festival’s prestigious Chloé award, the designer has a unique perspective on the fair. Here, he shares the details of his trip exclusively with Style.com.
Started in 1985 by Jean-Pierre Blanc, the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography has served as a launching pad for new talents for nearly three decades. This year, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the creative directors of Kenzo and founders of Opening Ceremony, were the head of fashion jury for the twenty-ninth edition of the festival. As the winner of the 2012 Chloé award, I had the opportunity to show my Fall ’14 collection as part of The Formers exhibition, where previous winners of the festival present their latest work and touch base with the community that started their careers. This year, Kenta Matsushige took first prize in the fashion category, and I was lucky enough to get a first look at her collection.
After disembarking the Eurostar, I made a quick pit stop at Totem’s new office in Paris to pick up my collection.
A skip, a hop, a five-hour train ride, and a cab later, we arrived at the Villa Noailles, where the festival would take place the next day. The sunny weather was the first sign that this would be an amazing year.
Off to the catwalk space to have a nosy peek at the rehearsal for this year’s finalists. And of course the first thing I did was have a look at the lineup…
…then it was over to the runway. An amazing giant door that the models walked through reminded me of one of my favorite childhood stories, Alice in Wonderland.
Back to the hotel and it was time to start some hand-sewing. Well, sort of…
The next morning, finalists had to present their collections to the jury. You can see the collections lined up in the tent behind all the models in hair and makeup. There was tension—someone’s destiny was at stake. And everyone in attendance was there to support the ten finalists as they pursued their dreams.
Before settling in to see the finalists’ collections, I wandered around the villa and saw the Kenzo exhibition getting installed. It featured a mixture of vintage and current Kenzo pieces on rotating mannequins.
After the nerve-racking presentation to the jury, the finalists showed their collections to the press. I had the pleasure of sitting in on the press presentation. It was so interesting to hear other designers’ thought processes.
After another night of hand-sewing and five coffees, the showroom was ready to go—and so was I! Continue Reading “Designer Diary: Steven Tai’s Postcard From Hyères” »
Karolina Kurkova was recently snapped in London sporting a white Steven Tai dress with navy floral appliqués—a pick that definitely helped edge him further onto the global fashion radar.
Tai, 29, who was born in Macao and mostly raised in Canada, belongs to a brand-new generation of designers who found their passion thanks to Style.com. “I remember being a geek in high school, becoming interested in how dress indicated belonging and how to look the part,” he recalled. Around his senior year, someone introduced him to Style.com. “It opened up a whole new world for me,” he said in his Paris showroom the other day. “It really turned me into a fashion person.”
For Fall-Winter, Tai’s story revolves around “a girl who broke up with her boyfriend but kept all his clothes”—which means tailored coats with a masculine vibe and slightly bigger, tomboyish silhouettes. Texture is a big focus for Tai, so he’s been developing techniques using laser-cut nylon, a raincoat material he works into flowers or uses as fringe, and sparkling tweed stitched in layers on jackets and coats. “We measure by the number of movies we watched while we are sewing,” he said, indicating one fringed trench. “This one is eight movies for four people.” He’s also been developing jacquards, which he uses in columns and cuts into fringe. “Jacquard is such a traditional fabric, it’s fun to be unsentimental about it,” he joked. Those flowers on Kurkova’s dress are another invention: They may look and feel like velvet, but in fact they are made of finely detailed, sliced embroidery.
You may remember Steven Tai from Spring ’14′s VFiles show, where the 29-year-old Central Saint Martins graduate presented his crisp range of sporty, silkscreened looks. But winning a spot in the fashion platform’s debut runway event isn’t Tai’s only claim to fame. In fact, the talent, who’s based in London by way of Macao, had been making the rounds in Europe and Canada for over a year before the VFiles romp. In 2012, his visually simple but technically mind-boggling designs won the Chloe award at the prestigious Hyeres festival; he’s been invited to show everywhere from Berlin to Toronto; and he’s already amassed a healthy crop of international stockists, VFiles, Canada’s Holt Renfrew, and London’s 125 Brick Lane among them. Tai now seems poised for fashion stardom, so it’s somewhat ironic that he spent most of his childhood trying to escape the garment game.
“My family did manufacturing for very technical sportswear, like bicycle gear for triathlons,” Tai told Style.com by phone from Hong Kong, where he was researching techniques and textiles. “I grew up around seamstresses and, as a kid, clothing was like the last thing I wanted to do.” However, while earning his business degree in Canada, Tai had a revelation. “I realized that I wanted to do something creative, and at the same time, a friend actually introduced me to Style.com, and the archive just opened up this whole new world for me.”
He enrolled in London’s competitive Saint Martins’ BA program and, when the designer wasn’t in classroom, he did stints at Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Hussein Chalayan, and Damir Doma.
It’s easy to see that his mentors taught him well. Tai’s work is impeccably crafted using various, unexpected processes. For example, Spring ’14 incorporated laser cutting, silk screening, bonding, and puff paint accents, as well as a fractured pastoral motif. The latter was derived from photographs of a British bio-dome that were abstracted by artist Lola Dupré. “I’m always quite nostalgic for the past, so I wanted to start with something very traditional, and combine it with something technical and futuristic,” Tai explained of the lineup, which was inspired by cross-stitching and glitch art. As for his pared-down cuts, Tai offered, “At Saint Martins, nothing you can do is crazy enough. I learned from that, but it’s important to have a balance. Technology and textiles are the crazy parts of my collection. It’s all about these insane, complicated procedures, and the silhouette stays simple—otherwise, it gets a bit overwhelming.”
Fall ’14 will mark Tai’s first time presenting his wares in a Somerset House showroom at London fashion week. “The collection is a lot more deconstructed than last season,” he hinted. “The inspiration is shredded papers.” To tide fans over between the Spring and Fall drops, Tai has once again teamed up with Dupré, this time to create a range of Pre-Fall sweatshirts that will be available at select retailers and on Tai’s Web site this April. Priced between $296 and $740, the graphic, Swarovski crystal-embellished scuba jersey jumpers debut above, exclusively on Style.com.