Wun’s world

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Who is Robert Wun? In an industry where more and more designers seem to be cropping up daily, it’s a valid question. One tinctured with a little too much incredulous cross-examination though, because Wun is a designer you should know about Securing his foothold early on, the young Hong Kong born designer hasn’t once looked back; however much fronting a luxury fashion label with a unique vision might seem a daunting task. Thrashing together all that is au natural in an interplay with the world’s overbearing artifice the UAL graduate has welded his own sophisticated signature which has already lured the likes of Wong Kar-Wai and the makers of The Hunger Games to learn more. Eager to learn more ourselves we sat down with Robert, who still refers to himself as a struggling designer,  to find out about the journey he has been on since graduating and break down what it takes to bring about your own label. There are many already in Robert Wun’s shoes, or at least trying to put themselves in the same shoes, but Robert, whose actual shoe designs are out of this world by the way, has high hopes for what the future will bring.

It’s been around six years now since you touched down in London, from then you did a year of foundation and then undertook a three year Womenswear BA course at London College of Fashion and graduated two years ago. Was your cataclysmic rise immediate?
I wasn’t actually even included in the press show. A lot of people were surprised, my graduate collection, Burnt, went really well even without getting into the show. Let’s just say, I think the powers that be at the world renowned “creative” institution may have had ulterior motives.

In what way?
They weren’t looking for students who knew what they were doing; they were looking for students who they could control.

But, after all, que sera sera?
Exactly, still, I’m here right now doing my own thing.

What is your own thing?
Un-confusing luxury fashion in London. A lot of people are flooding the industry with ‘fast’ fashion and no one has the time for luxury garments, it’s too overwhelming, and in my head, I care about everything from the fabric choice to the finishing and the entire structure, whilst paying attention to the overall interpretation of idea and style. Real luxury, and everything is original.

What do your designs say about you?
Everything. My obsession with nature mainly, ever since I can remember I was drawing sea creatures and animals, expressing what I feel about nature. All my collections are always about the bond between man and nature and what we have created together. Volt, my AW collection, explores nature’s intrinsic energy, its spiritual meanings and how in turn it inspires different cultures, for instance, from Japanese to African beliefs about the symbolic meaning of the sun.

You quite often play with proportions in your designs, in what way would you say you do this and why?
I like playing with curves; it’s all just so organic, god never creates straight lines, they are manmade and instead curves give you three-dimension.

Are you in a happy place right now Robert?
Career-wise in the city, yes, my whole brand is based in London, whereas across a few oceans Hong Kong is where all my roots are. I feel like people pay more attention to more progressive things here, the city sees potential.

In many ways London is fast becoming the capital of the world, and drawing on what you have previously suggested, many a one-to-watch is being bred in the UK’s capital. Is that what you would say is attracting so many budding young Asian designers?
Now Asia is more open and designers can show audiences all around the world what they can offer, especially those from China. More and more are realising this now. For me, it really comes down to logistics, I couldn’t imagine myself ever having seized the opportunities I have anywhere else in the world.

What has got you to the point that you are at right now?
I believe that good work speaks for itself. You just have to be who you are, you will always regret it if you don’t act on your first instinct.

Would you say you have always stood your ground?
Yes, if you stand your ground, even if you don’t get to that point you’re aspiring to as a designer you are still being true to yourself and you will learn more from that.

Being true to yourself has definitely kept you busy since leaving LCF, could you tell us a little about that?
When Burnt was such an immediate success it was crucial for me to start a diffusion line that would emphasise the wearability of my designs

Has time been flying by ever since?
I can’t believe it’s been two years now because the interest that I have garnered in that time has been phenomenal. Being approached by the makers of the next Hunger Games epic with the prospect of being the guest designer for the third cinematic adaption, Mockingjay, has been one of the highest privileges in my career so far. They only work with one guest designer, the first being Vivienne Westwood and the second, for the sequel, was Sarah Burton, and the next, me!

What is your next step?
Exploring evermore, I am pushing myself every season and I already have all the ideas so I already know the concept behind the next few seasons. I want to challenge myself with form and product level. I wish to cement my platform further in London, to show everyone what I am capable of.

Your evident capabilities have seen you work with iconic director Wong Kar-Wai on a special fashion project recently; could you tell us more about this meeting of minds?
He is incredible and I can confidently say that I learnt so much from him. He was commissioned to direct an advert for a new perfume being launched in Shanghai, and of course he made it into a spectacular fashion story which I had the chance to design the garments for, all feathers and chiffon, the kind of pieces that I have never created before.


Volt, your AW14 collection which you previously touched on definitely sees you exploring new territories, could you elaborate on this for us?
I tried to “put” in more ideas, but I didn’t want to go too far, recently I’ve been careful to ensure that I run my business as a business, because at the end of the day, that’s what it is. Using nylon tubes I created two couture dresses though, the Vein Dresses, as a symbol of the veins inside the human body, a visual impact of how the radiation will expose the veins underneath the flesh, the energy of radiation like the x-ray or the sun.

Through Volt you introduced some compelling new forms of platform boots in the finest pony skin. Christian Dior once said, “You can never take too much care over the choice of your shoes” the footwear you design to “hold up” your garments seems very important to you, what is it about footwear that takes you so much?
Shoes are one the best mediums to demonstrate who you are as a designer. I always see everything as art and stationary shoes (Robert gestures to a pair of his shoes) look like a living vase, they have a life of their own; imagine how much shoes can tell a story!

Out of curiosity, what is your favourite part of your job?
To be able to create. Yes, I could work under the thumb of a large design house, but in my position I am able to make my dreams come true wherein the visuals in my head can be made into real things that say something that is 100% me.

Do you have any inspiring words you would like to pass on to young designers graduating from LCF?
Be original, try not to look into fashion, look into something else which is very irrelevant. The most beautiful inspiration in life comes from living, so look at the people around you, because you never know what might inspire you. Find something that is raw and untouched, hasn’t been through the “fashion process”.

There you have it, it’s beyond avant-garde, it’s going to be taken to more destinations unknown; it’s Wun’s world and he just calls it “visually stunning”.

 by Liam Feltham

Images courtesy of Robert Wun.

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Glass Online fashion writer

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