“The soul has kissed my soul with its pain, asking for its return in songs.” The verse from Stray Birds by Rabindranath Galore reads in curved calligraphy like some sort of premonition, like a warning written in silver under the name of Taiwanese designer Jolin Wu.
As I stand on the queue to see Wu’s Autumn/Winter 2019 show, I read the sentence over and over again, the shiny letters beaming on my ticket, and it occurs to me this will not be an ordinary show, because this is most definitely not an ordinary designer. Wu is a creator of concepts and images, able to give shape to the shapeless in a way that transcends fashion and steps flirtatiously - but not dangerously - close to the border with fine arts. Through every design, she is trying to deliver a message, clothes are but an excuse.
Once I am inside Freemason’s Hall, sitting down and waiting for the show to begin, the mouths of hundreds of fashionistas open in unison as a gasp escapes them all. The lights have suddenly gone off and an image of a crescent moon is projected on the wall, bathing us all in artificial moonlight. I smile. A single model stands on the runway, defiantly looking in front of her as if she were the night and daytime was upon her. She begins walking down and the lights return, but they’ve changed: they’re a different colour and suggest a different depth, as if we’d been pulled into a different dimension, where the moon has been stolen.
More and more models walk the runway in bold mixtures of fabric, texture and colour. There’s wool, there’s velvet, there’s satin. There’s bold neon colours and seductive pastels on a black canvas. There is a second sentence that reveals the name of the collection: “The Crescent Moon and the Stars are Riot.” And it doesn’t make sense until it does, when the lights go off once again and three models, two carrying stars and a third one carrying the moon trapped in a fishing net, walk the runway slowly, unapologetically like a living metaphor.
Trends are but a reflection of the zeitgeist, things that change as time does, but how does one reflect on a garment the long, long life of a star or the sky? According to Jolin Wu, the answer is simple: one simply doesn’t. To comprehend timelessness is to understand change, it’s being able to see the differences in the night sky and find similarities between the dark, cold void and our lives underneath. Slow clap.