Bunka graduate Leonard Wong treated us to a feast of angular leather and progressive gothic stylings at his first full exhibition at the Garter Gallery housed in the hub of the Tokyo avant-garde, the Kitakore Building in Koenji.  It marked the culmination of his more theatrical graduation pieces that have graced the bodies of the usual suspects, including as you might expect, Lady Gaga on tour, but alluded to a more wearable/commercial second line to be announced later this year, as well as an prelude to his projected debut at Paris Fashion Week in 2015.  If that introduction hasn’t made you feel the wind in your proverbial hair, then his work itself will:

As you can see his starting points are the body conscious forms that are unavoidably where the majority of young designers begin, but the skill with which he exaggerates either the masculine or feminine in a given piece is very well observed indeed.  In his female work the shoulders extend to armor proportions and on his male the muscles triangulate away from the body.

It goes without saying that you can read a lot of established designers into his early work, not least Gareth Pugh, but having attended a couple of graduate fashion shows this year already, it is clear that Pugh has been a huge influence on an entire generation of Japanese and moreover, Asian designers.  As someone who works in fashion education who regularly sees students learn by copying complicated pieces verbatim to improve their skills, I always look for what the designer has added to make it their own, rather than what is similar.  I think what makes the neo-gothic so prone to these kinds of criticisms is not only due to the saturation the genre has achieved in a very short space of time, but also its greatest strength – that it has such visual impact.  In Leonard Wong’s case the way he achieves his volume with broad sheets of firm leather, puckered seams and so on is fresh and the fact that it feels so complete already is a good indication of what is to come.

Moving on to the exhibition itself:

To mark the official start of his brand Leonard Wong enlisted model Christy Heimuth to stage a live lookbook shoot.

I thought this was a great way to involve his fans and supporters in his work and to force them to take the time to see each item worn – young designers take note!

As you can see he has a good amount of variety to his stoic geometry, and I can’t wait to see all these ideas expanded on in the future.

This piece reminded me of the wonderful illustrations of Kazuma Kaneko and looked vaguely possessed with the light running through it.

Fabulous use of texture in the leather here, don’t miss the pony hair.

Again the pony hair adds to the bestial themes in opposition to the clean geometry.

For more on Leonard Wong you can visit his homepage here and stand by for more graduates to watch in the coming days.

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3 Responses to Leonard Wong – Exhibition in Garter Gallery Koenji

  1. HorseMan says:

    Love this guy’s work. I’ll make sure to keep an eye out for his shows.

  2. Andrew says:

    Wow, first full exhibition, recently a student, creating for Lady Gaga, readying a second line for later this year, and projecting to debut in Paris in 2015… it’s not hard to see why, but wow.

    You mentioned Kazuma Kaneko and Gareth Pugh, and I couldn’t help but think of Takashi Nishiyama, although I’m not sure how good of a comparison that really is. Also reminds me of a few things from Naruto (of all places), but I imagine a lot of people could project a lot of different “inspirations” onto work like this.

    Awesome to see some fresh student work, looking forward to more!

  3. Samuel says:

    Glad to hear a good reception, and yes there is more student work on the way.

    I think being able to find inspirations in any young designer’s work is perfectly natural, and no bad thing in the grand scheme of things. I will only say that this particular genre of fashion does fall victim to people tracing inspirations rather zealously, but given how relatively unsaturated it is compared to fashion as a whole, I can’t help but think that there is still plenty of room for talented newcomers.

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