In conversation with London based womenswear designer Pengyan Lou on creating her own language of astrology through Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement art) and his re-examinations of divination, metaphysics, the work of artist Christian Boltanski and Japanese photographer Masao Yamamoto.
Tell us a bit about you, your background and the decision to start your own brand in nowadays context.
After studying design for the past few years, I have seen numerous exceptional designers express themselves through their work. This ignited a strong desire within me to utilize every season expressing what I admire and aim to portray. This will give me the ideas and aesthetics that I want to express. At the same time, fashion is a manifestation of a microcosm of the social history of a particular era. We can almost understand the aesthetic changes in this era and try to understand its historical background through fashion. I think this is an interesting idea, to hint at the trend of an era through fashion, and in my eyes, setting up a brand is a romantic way to record my existence as a designer within this era.
How would you describe Pengyan Lou?
I hope this brand can build up an image of an idealistic of woman.”She will be gentle like a poet, have the courage to resist, and face the world with arrogance and calm.”I am currently a third-year undergraduate graduating student, but I have a very strong ambition to build and nurture a brand that belongs to me. It will help me to enhance my personal growth which is a very special experience. I hope this brand Will show the traces of my life.
Can you share with us an insight into your creative design process? How do you start working on a collection?
It is a self-analysis project. I have over-relied on numerology and even lost the ability to think about myself. However, I realized that I was being eroded away by greedy desire to “eagerly explore the future”. I started critically analyze the disadvantages of modern numerology.
As we all know, this is an era in which success is not guaranteed even if one is very powerful. This leads to premature anxiety to one’s own future and potential demise. Numerology helps people to peek at the future in a brand-new way, and for numerologists, this is a kind of poison and greedy way of thinking that can lead to overreliance. I therefore started a brand-new project from this entry point to show that real numerology should be a certain combination of man and nature, not solely exist for profiteering.
How would you describe your perspective of beauty?
I prefer a design with a minimalist aesthetic and a story, because in this era there is no shortage of publicity. We are all experiencing an era of blooming flowers, and all aesthetics can be concretized and expressed. I want to explore and discover that I am a person with that kind of aesthetics. As I have a deep interest in Zen culture, I hope you can feel the power of calm in the aesthetics of my work.
Can you tell us more about the main ideas behind your “A study of the value of modern astrology” collection showcased here in the pictures?
The project is based on the change of astrology through times. Astrology was established with a beautiful coexisting relationship between nature and the human-being, but in modern times, from the obsessions and experiences I have had, it has become a means of profit making. Fortune-tellers have captured people’s confusion in real life and desire to understand the future and seek self-comfort as a means to capitalize on people’s anxities. Starting from re-examining the matter of divination and metaphysics, artists who embody the value of their lives with man and nature as the core were investigated. The aesthetics that I see in Christian Boltanski’s art works, combining with my favorite Japanese photographer Masao Yamamoto, who portrays relationship between human beings and nature in this work was the main inspiration for my work. By creating my own language of astrology through Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement art), they become the signature design aspects throughout the collection.
Your first collection was inspired by photography, films and the work of Hong Kong based photographer Fan Ho, while the following one was inspired by Viennese Actionism and Gunter Brus, what should we expect next from you?
The project I’m currently doing is centered on observing things from different angles to get different results, combining two opposites into one and placing them on the same object. From the perspective of clothes, I explored different silhouettes in the same object in this project and the display possibilities on a piece of clothing. My inspiration comes from myself during lockdown isolation. I feel visually fatigued by the same object, so I made a project based on this to give new visual possibilities to the old object. This time, the research has created a series of works by an art organization troika, they focus on putting opposites on a sculpture, so that people can get different answers in the observation of the object. At the same time during my research, I learned that many more artists also used a relatively minimalist aesthetic to show the visual transformation of the structure, combined with the aesthetics of Bauhaus. to show me the final design of this series is also being prepared. The final design of this series is also being prepared.
A study of the value of modern astrology
Photography: @l.o.umite & @qinglong_fu
Fashion: @l.o.umite / @pengyanlou