Next up on LCF BA17 is Creative Direction for Fashion graduate Nicole Chui who created a zine that explores contemporary female identities in streetwear culture. Illustrator, embroidery artist and stylist Nicole talks to us about her zine and her plans for the future.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the moment you knew you wanted to study fashion?
My name is Nicole, I’m proudly born and raised in Hong Kong. I’m an ex-footballer and ballerina who has fallen for the fashion industry. My first interaction with fashion was a sewing class my mum signed me up for because she didn’t want me solely focusing on sports! That class was the first time I made clothes by myself and felt proud. I was always the type of person who had tons of concepts and liked taking initiative to make things myself, so I decided to go into fashion as a way to contextualise all the endless ideas in my brain.
Talk us through your final project…
Fem is a series of three printed zines exploring contemporary female identities in streetwear and the subcultures that influences it. Each zine’s theme is influenced by slang associated with the main subcultural heritage of the brand Stussy, which is the focus of this project. Everyone featured in the zine has some sort of relationship to both streetwear and the subcultures, but they all express their involvement in different ways like illustration, embroidery, lyrics, writing, collectives and so on. There’s a lot of interesting types you’ll find in my zines.
What is the story behind your final piece of work?
I’m one of four sisters, so I’ve always felt that it was important to make something about and supporting other girls. I was researching streetwear — particularly from the female perspective, where I noticed a lack of representations in the media compared to the male influences of the culture. Therefore, I took this opportunity to create Fem as a way to gather females who participate in streetwear AND its subcultures in the form of printed zines.
What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work?
Photography, illustration, embroidery and a lot of old school DIY techniques. Theoretically, I looked at female representation in streetwear photography, feminist theory, and brand culture. I did a lot of writing for these zines, which was a challenge as I’m not very passionate about writing. However, I’m extremely proud of the interviews and features in the zine, as they’ve all got their own fascinating story.
Have you been in the media?
I recently worked on a project with Nike and Complex UK where we created a zine and I got to showcase my embroidery art in it. I’ve also been featured in King Kong magazine, Pigeons and Peacocks, Embellished talk (shout out Rebeckah Kemi Apara), Sukeban and Art Hoe collective! I also illustrate for Gal-dem zine so I have some work on their website.
Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF? Where and how did you secure this work experience or placement?
I did my placement term at a menswear magazine and got to understand both the commercial and creative side of making independent publications. My experience taught me a lot about communicating with people in different roles, menswear brands, casting and being a producer for shoots. I did a lot of different things throughout my whole time at LCF like interning for fashion designers like Ryan Lo, assisting a few stylists and assisting photographers. My internships came about from constantly emailing people every day and networking.
Have you met or been inspired by any speakers from the industry whilst at LCF?
Ronojoy Dam— I respect him and his career. He’s smart, down to earth and effortless in his presentation skills. Most importantly…he quoted Aaliyah in our talk which was so amazing! He’s dope! Hope I could work with or for him one day.
Describe your work and aesthetic in five words…
Powerful, loud, funny, fearless, and female!
Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?
They vary, but my muses are hustlers with a youthful spirit like Sophia Chang, Kevin Poon, Sharmadean Reid, Eddie Huang and every person I’ve featured in my Fem zines. I value their ambition, fearlessness, passion and involvement in communities, which is something I hope to carry throughout my career!
What influences your style and work?
Maurizio Anzeri is my biggest inspiration. In terms of the content and themes of my work in general, it’s definitely a mix of my heritage, being female, anger, humour, hip hop, and youth culture. I take inspiration from the brashness of each of those things which are why most of my work makes a statement. I think there will always be something that is punchy in my outcomes.
What are your plans for the future?
Sell these zines and hold my first solo exhibition in London towards the end of May! I’d like to try working at a creative agency, make my concepts stronger and continue to get commissioned as a visual creator with my embroidery. Overall, can’t wait for what’s next!
How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve this?
I’ve made a good group of great friends at LCF and I’ve learned so much from them. My mates and collaborators are from all over the world, so LCF has been a “meeting place”— that was really key for me since I don’t have any family aside from my sister in London or working in fashion.
Have you heard that LCF is moving to east London? What do you think about the move?
I think having more types of people from different courses in one space will enable more ideas, collaborations, and interesting discussions. East London is also really key for anyone in London’s fashion and art scene since a lot of studios and opportunities tend to be there.
What music do you listen to whilst you’re working? Is there one particular track or artist that you like?
AALIYAH. Especially her track Are you that somebody and the entire ‘Romeo Must Die’ soundtrack. Generally, I listen to trap, hip hop, RnB, and Grime. Stuff like Princess Nokia, A$AP Ferg, Young M.A, Lil Kim, Section Boyz, Higher Brothers, Sweat Shop Boys and any mix by UNITI (they’re in my zine!). Music is such an important part of my life.
What do you think Brexit means for the fashion industry and studying in London?
London is known as a city of diversity and acceptance of creativity around the world. Brexit completely goes against that by creating this perception of division and segregation, so in that sense, I think Brexit destroys London’s USP. This might mean fewer people will be willing to invest in London’s upcoming creative talent, which is sad. However, I always have hope that we can get through it. I highly doubt fashion will suffer that drastically.
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