CHAL­LENGER SPIRIT

Phillip Lim

Prestige Indonesia - - Contents -

PHILLIP LIM RE­ACTED strongly when In­ter­view mag­a­zine pub­lished a style shoot he deemed racist in its Au­gust is­sue. Shot by Billy Kidd, one of the pho­tos shows an Asian model walk­ing around New York City’s Chi­na­town, while car­ry­ing Chanel bags. She car­ries them on her shoul­der with a long bam­boo stick, while wear­ing a straw hat.

Lim, an Amer­i­can de­signer of Chi­nese and Cam­bo­dian des­cent, shared his opin­ion about the im­agery on his In­sta­gram page: “These im­ages re­in­force sev­eral stereo­types that Asian im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties work so hard to break from.” He goes on to list the stereo­types he sees in the im­agery, among them the link­age of Chi­nese to coun­ter­feited goods. When Pres­tige asks him about racial is­sues in Amer­ica, Lim ad­mits that “it’s a chal­leng­ing time. As an Asian Amer­i­can im­mi­grant, I will never for­get that my par­ents sac­ri­ficed so that I could do what I love to­day. Be­cause of that, I will con­tinue to chal­lenge stereo­types – the “chal­lenger spirit” is some­thing I cel­e­brate in busi­ness, brand, and in my per­sonal life.”

Racial sol­i­dar­ity aside, Lim has a le­git­i­mate rea­son to bash Asian, es­pe­cially Chi­nese, stereo­types. His name­sake la­bel 3.1 Phillip Lim is partly man­u­fac­tured in China, as to achieve Lim’s vi­sion to cre­ate de­signer cloth­ing that is rea­son­ably priced.

Since start­ing his ca­reer in 2000, the de­signer has gained both crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess. His de­but as a de­signer was a Los An­ge­les-based womenswear line Devel­op­ment, which he started with a few part­ners. The la­bel was closed af­ter four years, to give room for Lim to start a more re­fined one. So be­gan his name­sake la­bel in fall 2005, two years af­ter Ja­son Wu’s de­but. Wu, who is a favourite of Michelle Obama, has of­ten been com­pared to Lim as an Asian de­signer who has made it in­ter­na­tion­ally. The num­bers on his name­sake la­bel re­flect Lim’s, and busi­ness part­ner Wen Zhou’s, age at the time. His sta­tus as a de­signer was le­git­i­mated with the Emerg­ing Tal­ent in Womenswear award from the Coun­cil of Fash­ion De­sign­ers of Amer­ica (CFDA) two years later. In 2012, Lim was awarded by the coun­cil for his vi­sion in menswear.

As a de­signer who thrives in both womenswear and menswear, Lim says he takes a sim­i­lar ap­proach in de­sign­ing for both gen­ders. “It starts with a unique in­spi­ra­tion and then we go from there,” says Lim, who stud­ied home eco­nom­ics at Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity, Long Beach. “With menswear, it’s a bit more per­sonal in the sense that I am a man and I wear the clothes my­self, but the in­tro­duc­tion and the process is al­ways the same and I am al­ways think­ing about how pieces fit to­gether, how they can be lay­ered, taken apart, mixed and matched. For me, style and taste is gen­der­less.”

Lim’s forte as a de­signer lies in his prac­ti­cal­ity, or as Vogue de­scribes it, “he is prag­matic”. For fall, the de­signer shows a mostly black and white col­lec­tion, with an ex­cep­tion of “Yves Klein blue” and shades of pink in be­tween. “Black and white was the per­fect foil for the pops of candy pink and elec­tric blue we also showed in the fall col­lec­tion. I wanted a dy­namic, en­er­getic show for the sea­son.” Over­all, Lim means for the col­lec­tion to be fem­i­nine both in colour choice and tailor­ing.

Quite the op­po­site is the case of the menswear. Lim leaves the styling of his fall col­lec­tion to model and muse Paolo Roldan. Roldan, who him­self is an In­sta­gram star, pairs the sea­son’s coat and bomber jacket with skinny black jeans and white t-shirt. In other pair­ing, Roldan mixes whites and khakis in lay­ers. The pair­ings are cap­tured in the sea­sonal cam­paign.

“I wanted to chal­lenge the sys­tem by invit­ing my friend Paolo Roldan to self-style the col­lec­tion. Tak­ing down the smoke and mir­rors that are of­ten present, this ap­proach felt real and more in­ti­mate. The re­sult is truly a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of how the mod­ern man gets dressed.”

Al­though he de­signs for both gen­ders, Lim has no plans to go co-ed in terms of fash­ion shows, a step that has been taken by Burberry, Marc Ja­cobs and Coach. “I will never say never, but at this time, no. For me the col­lec­tions are in­de­pen­dent be­cause the man and the woman wear­ing 3.1 Phillip Lim have their own sto­ries, their own points of view, their own in­spi­ra­tion.” No sur­prises there, see­ing how Lim has al­ways danced to his own rhythm. Un­like other high-pro­file young de­sign­ers with stints at leg­endary fash­ion houses, say Pub­lic School’s Hum­berto Leon and Carol Lim at Kenzo

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