The preview of the Rei Kawakubo / Comme des garcons exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum got me wondered if fashion can really be an intellectual art. Organized around conceptual themes (absence / presence, design / not design, self / other, object / subject, abstraction / representation,…), the show challenges our perception of clothing, of what’s wearable and ultimately our understanding of fashion as a design process is. While Kawakubo’s influence on womenswear has been tremendous democratizing the concept Art/Fashion, it has been more challenging to identify a menswear equivalent. Ximon Lee, Chinese-born Korean designer living and working now in Brooklyn, made a name for himself when winning the H&M Design Award in 2015 right after finishing his BFA in Fashion Design at Parsons (NY). In only few seasons, Ximon Lee managed to create a visual language of his own, questioning and reshaping menswear’s silhouette, playing with industrial materials (denim, pvc, felt,…) and turning garment into graphic design statement.
His Spring Summer collection, while still flirting with Juun J, Raf Simons, Margiela’s silhouettes, offers an exciting take on denim. Bleached, melted with PVC, coated with paint, stretched, used as ornaments, denim jacket redone in PVC, oversized pants, denim is as a fil rouge contrasting or complementing other materials.
Ximon Lee’s strongest coup remains his ability to transform, and somehow recycle, industrial materials into clothings. Looking at the collection, you can’t really differentiate what’s noble from what’s not. I find it fascinating especially two years after graduating.