Both designers have developed very different garments for their final collections. Taiwanese designer Tommy explored human existence and our bodies as shells, while Jazz, originally from Brighton, was inspired by a Jamaican gangsters with a legacy similar to Robin Hood.
Find out why they were pulled to menswear and where they hope to be in five years time below.
Give us one interesting fact about yourself…
Tommy: I enjoy watching my gold fish swim and ask for food, they are simply too cute.
Jazz: My great uncle invented the term ‘double denim’.
Talk us through your final collection…
Tommy: I looked at many different things, explored various possibilities of practicality and imagination. The research phase was a key process for me to define what I wanted to work with and how I’m presenting my ideas. I care about social issues, humans and the planet earth, so I am more inclined to inject provocative thoughts into my work. The point was to make people think! My final project is mainly about looking at human behaviour, and to think what it’d be like if there was no such thing called ‘humanity’. Frames and structures grant us the ability to perform and move, but without the mind, we are shells, flesh, and simply a set of moving mechanisms. It was a great collaborating with Yi Ling as we accidentally found we had a similar approach. I’m thankful for her joining my final collection as her extraordinary ability of creating textures really aids and lifts the overall accent of my work, the combination is absolutely beautiful.
Jazz: ‘Dudus’ was an infamous Jamaican Drug Lord, he was internationally hunted for his violent crimes and global drug exportation. He distributed his wealth and sent poor children to schools in Tivoli Gardens, one of the poorest shanty towns in Jamaica. He was greatly admired and respected by the Jamaican community. When Dudus was finally captured, he had disguised himself as a woman. His technique of shunning the police by dressing as a woman then caught on for many Jamaican gangsters. The irony of this is exaggerated by the homophobic attitudes still held in Jamaica. With Dudus’ arrest, the community was sent into hysteria with hundreds taking to the streets donning protests signs with slogans like, ‘After God, next comes Dudus!‘ and ‘Leave Dudus alone!‘ My project aims to capture this character – imagined as a man adorned in ferociously feminine attire as means of disguise but still withholding an undoubtedly masculine demeanour.
What do you love about what you do?
Tommy: I love making things out of my ideas and by my own hands, they need to look incredible so the satisfaction transcends anything.
Jazz: Realising ambitious and abstract ideas with simple techniques and materials.
What is the story behind your final piece of work?
Tommy: I began by questioning the existence of humanity! I stripped off all that and developed my work into a series of structural and mechanical based process. Imagine human’s being stripped to purely an organic set of moving mechanisms, that’s what I wanted provoke about fashion, as these ideas go into garments. I wanted to ask if were still human wearing an empty shell? I was inspired by artist Hans Bellmer, marionette puppets, and later string attachments became a key element of my collection. My approach was to represent the fundamental side of the human body, while Yi Ling’s work was more futuristic and robotic, which is hopefully made quite an interesting collaboration.
Jazz: My final piece involves six outfits. I looked at older feminine generations, the colours involve musty pastel pinks and greens, classic denim royal blues and outbursts of mottled gold. My collection also uses sloppy silhouettes with ruffling beyond comprehension, antique lace, fraying and fringing. The straight forward, well-known denim jacket and jeans look is reinterpreted.
What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work?
Tommy: I used a lot of bonding for finishing details and found it takes a lot more time than sewing. I laced pieces of panels together to create a garment with the least stitching possible!
Jazz: I manipulated stereotypical ‘granny’ techniques, and applied them to more classic ‘menswear’ silhouettes.
What’s the best thing about LCF?
Tommy: As a design student, I think the technicians are the greatest backup for us and I absolutely appreciate their help.
Jazz: Hilary Hann!
What’s the best thing about your course?
Tommy: To be honest, I love how much we menswear students are loved by our best tutors in the world.
Jazz: You are encouraged to work creatively in a unique way that is personal to ourselves.
Have you been in the media?
Tommy: My team collaboration work with Adidas has been featured in F*cking Young.
Jazz: Two of my final garments have been featured in an editorial in Superior Magazine.
Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF? Where and how did you secure this work experience or placement?
Tommy: I’ve worked for womenswear designers Jamie Wei Huang and APU JAN, and menswear designer Rory Parnell-Mooney. Just present the best of you and go with a full-heart of willing to learn.I actually learnt a lot from these designers.
Jazz: Yes, Wales Bonner! I searched for her online and arranged an interview after.
What did you learn on your work experience/placement?
Tommy: Polishing my pattern and garment making skills are a definite, and having to deal with any kind of chores from head to toe of a season gave me more confidence in getting my own work done.
Jazz: A learnt a significant amount about how to run a very new and hugely anticipated brand. Also, anything that could go wrong, does. You learn to laugh at the all the complications!
Have you met or been inspired by any speakers from the industry whilst at LCF?
Tommy: I get so much inspiration from LCF’s brilliant illustrators Martha Zmpounou and John Booth. They helped me push my boundaries in drawing!
Describe your work in five words…
Tommy: Carefully considered work of subtleness?
Jazz. More is more is more.
Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?
Tommy: I’d say Dalai Lama!
Jazz: Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. Well my imagined version of him.
What inspires you?
Tommy: Everything to be honest, life is a series of exciting inspirations.
Jazz: It completely depends on what I am working on. With this particular project, I was inspired by a combination of personal styles and characters that I find interesting. Most of the interesting characters aren’t related to fashion or textile, I’m just drawn to them.
Where do you want to be in your career in five years’ time?
Tommy: Preferably, I’d position myself as an independent designer and stylist, and hopefully keep myself productively creative.
Jazz: Somewhere I am able to think and create big.
How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve your plans?
Tommy: Yeah absolutely! I reckon LCF’s Menswear course still stands out for its ability to make students more competitive in both creativity and practicality.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to study your course?
Tommy: Be patient and hardworking because intense training can tare you apart and you will need to be able to cope with loads of pressure. Try and get as much experience as possible as there is so much more on offer than just designing. Knowing how to make garments and pattern knowledge will definitely help you down the line!
Jazz: Only study fashion design if its the only thing you want to do. It’s all or nothing!
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