Monday, June 15, 2020

BEAUTY: Clothing--Xander Zhou

A staple of London Fashion Week Men's, designer Xander Zhou is at once a futurist, a visionary, and a scientist at heart. His thoughts and hopes and fears for and about the future are on display in his clothing (see his "Supernatural Extraterrestrial" collection based on Zen aliens here, and his collection based on the impending explosion of cloning and genetic modification here). He has always been a designer of pared down, sleek, futuristic garments but we are seeing the future unfold before our eyes with the advance of extreme climate change and the transformation of societal and racial ideas. And of course the thing that has had a direct impact on fashion designers is COVID-19. As you know, London Fashion Week Men's is being presented on a digital platform this year, and many designers do not have fully formed collections to present, either via Lookbook or film, since the world has been quarantining for many months now. Designers have not been able to visit their studios and ateliers, nor have they been able to work with their team to manifest a collection.

So for Spring Summer '21 at London Fashion Week Men's, Xander Zhou presented a film that was a redux of his last Fall Winter '20-'21 collection called titled "Homo Multiversalis" (seen here), where Zhou played with the idea of not one future but many futures. There is a concept in quantum physics which posits many universes parallel to our own. Each of these universes represents a slight shift from what we know in this universe. There is one where I am a famous author, one where I am homeless, one where I was killed in a war, one where I have a wife and a family, one where I am a murderer, one where I died when I was three years old of a get the idea. All of these versions of ourselves exist yet never meet. But in Zhou's imagination, we get to see a split-screen view of men from these mulitverses, hence the title "Homo Multiversalis."

This split was represented by pieces of clothing halved down the center. One side dressy, the other side casual. One side light, the other dark. The models faces displayed different skin tones and eye colors and merged two different beings from different universes into idea that embodies the ultimate manifestation of inclusivity. We also get to see pieces of clothing that look like they come from a very different universe, a place where beings of sufficient scientific knowledge know how to traverse the rift between universes. Body suits that look like components of digital machines, padded trusses, numerical equations, and Tron-like light lines highlight the alien/futuristic feeling. Pixelated images of faces support the idea of a myriad of human beings (even underwear gets pixelated). And the idea of two halves torn asunder and joined in the middle is manifested in the zig zag edges of puffer jackets, coats, and shirts. The final look seems to be an image of a rift in time and space itself.

This current SS '21 collection titled "AW20 CRITICAL UPDATE / SS21 PUBLIC BETA VERSION" also utilizes silhouettes from the Fall Winter '19 collection and the superhero padded shorts from the Spring Summer '19 show. The film features a computerized synthetic voice narrating the garments...I love how the speech becomes glitched and incomprehensible for SHOWCASE 4, the section of pixelated images on clothing. The film ends with a non-sequitir of a string of random numbers. The whole thing feels slightly feels like a future that is going to calmly and indifferently eat us alive...

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