LCF23: A Visual and Political Posteriority of Empowering Bodies with Min-Ji Kim
LCF Postgraduate Class of 2023 features work from our three world-leading design, communications and business schools to demonstrate how LCF students look beyond the traditional notions of fashion to imagine a new and exciting future. A bustling two-day exhibition will offer a unique perspective into LCF’s postgraduate work by immersing visitors in the future of fashion through displays of design, film, photography, VR and more from LCF’s boundary-breaking students at the infamous Truman Brewery in east London. In light of the celebrations, we're finding out more about work from this year's graduating cohort.
Graduate Min-Ji Kim from MA Fashion Design Technology (Womenswear) shares her thoughts behind her final collection where she breaks connotations of the male gaze in American Pin-Up magazines and warrants a fresh new prospective of autonomy.
Please tell us about your final project ‘UnIVerSaLly DoMiNanT!!!’ What is the reason behind the lettering with the use of capital and non-capitalised letters?
I use both capital and non-capitalized letters for the title as a way to invoke my inner child’s way of writing. Having struggled with dyslexia mostly as a child, I used to mix both capital and non-capital letters when writing and found that when I let myself go, I am the most creative then. In my collection, there is a sense of playfulness and nostalgia that lingers in the way I use my colours, imagery, and textures.
What inspired you to explore both Korean and American culture?
Growing up living in 4 different countries; Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, and America, and having only attended American International schools, I have always struggled with my cultural identity. I never really had a sense of belonging whenever I moved as each country is so different to each other. Strangely enough, when I discovered American Pin-Up magazines in a hot summer three years ago in my grandfather’s closet, it became a beacon of understanding my cultural heritage and opened my eyes in knowing how much the Korean and American culture intertwined in my family. My grandfather participated in the 1950s Korean War, acting as a pilot, and used to collect Pin-Up Magazines that sold through the black market which is what inspired me.
What social and political messages are you trying to portray in your collection?
The social and political messages that are conveyed in my collection are of the imagery and connotations of the pin up women that was meant for the male gaze and changing the lens to portray strength and power of the feminine body.
I convey strength through using colour, textiles, glass, and bold silhouettes to capture masculine tropes of adding power back onto the body and the idea of taking up space unapologetically.
In recent years, the fashion industry has made great strides towards inclusivity when it comes to body types. However, there is still a long way to go before plus size models are given the same representation on the runway. Your designs feature a variety of proportions challenging the status quo, with the lack of representations of plus size models on the runway especially as part of London Fashion Week, how does your collection challenge this?
My collection has many different body types and genders - a bodybuilder, a plus size model, and non-binary models. To me, it’s not really about the body but rather the personality that comes through and how the body holds the narrative of the garments. When looking for a model, I always look for someone who is not only alluring, but also who carries a sense of strength and a strong unapologetic boldness in their character.
Tell us about the production process and the structure in using knit, glass, and leather straps. Why did you decide to use these materials?
I chose to use glass especially for the narrative purposes of my collection as glass as a material represents the nature of the pin up women/magazines. Glass is a material that holds many juxtapositions as it is flexible but unyielding, fragile but strong, transparent but opaque.
Glass embodies the political and social messages being spoken in the Pin Up advertisements as the female models would have random objects of commercial products on their body in no particular order or system but rather to impose fantasy and experience to the audience.
I use leather as a component that holds the glass as it is not only strong enough to hold the material, but also it is a strong, durable material that circulates robustness as a message to seep through.
Knitting is a practice I love and have carried with me since studying my BA degree and is a way to also allow me to apply the same ideology of power and rebelliousness through the techniques and colours used.
What inspired the colour palette for your garment pieces?
Moths and their patterns were the biggest inspiration of the colour palette in my garment pieces as their colours are acidic and bright for predators to know that they are dangerous but also to allure them as well. However, I also use colours as a way to speak and revolt.
Another personal reason why I chose the specific palette is because whenever I do a project or paint and let myself go, I always gravitate towards bold colours as it seems like it’s just what my subconscious chooses every time. As a child I always painted the walls in my room with bright pinks and neon yellows, I feel that colour is so important to my work as it is closest to describing who I am without much explanation. It’s alarming and demands your attention but also adds to confidence because you need to also accept that people are going to stare at you.
Are there any highlights that you'd like to share about being on the course?
I absolutely loved the entire course. I really found myself and understood more about my world. I enjoyed being around such amazing creative peers who have helped me push to be the designer that I am today. The course also thoroughly helped me prepare for the fashion industry and helped me feel more confident to be in my own skin unapologetically.