INTERVIEW: EDMUND OOI

Interview by Filep Motwary
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Edmund Ooi is a Malaysian-born menswear designer based in Belgium. After beinng trained at the royal academy of fine arts in Antwerp he worked alongside Romain Kremer at Mugler in Paris. AW14 marks his debut collection and includes 15 looks accompanied by a reptile inspired shoes collection. With a strong focus on an outspoken wardrobe with interesting mix of strong textures and graphical cuts, ooi aims to break menswear boundaries. This season’s collection is a subtle take on Vadim’s Barbarella, starring his then wife Jane Fonda, transformed into today’s male version…

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-So Edmund, how did everything start for you?

IT STARTED LONG AGO, FROM RECEIVING A SCHOLARSHIP FOR FASHION STUDIES IN MALAYSIA WHEN I WAS 17. THEN I FURTHERED MY STUDIES IN THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF FINE ART IN ANTWERP.

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-Which experiences helped you form your own aesthetics?

I WOULD HAVE TO SAY THE TRAINING AT THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF FINE ART IN ANTWERP. IT WAS THE TIME WHEN I WAS TOTALLY SUBMERGED IN MY OWN WORLD AND EXPLORED AS MUCH AS I COULD AND THE REAL INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE FROM WORKING AT MUGLER MENSWEAR.

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- What is your new collection for FW14 about?

THIS IS A COLLECTION ABOUT TEXTURES AND GRAPHICAL CUTS. DIFFERENT SURFACES AND MATERIALS SUCH AS WOOL TREATED WITH SILICON COATING, WOOL TREATED WITH SILICON STAMPING, BRUSHED MOHAIR JACQUARD AND DOUBLE BONDED WOOL, ARE USED TO CREATE KEY ITEMS FOR THIS COLLECTION.

IN COLLABORATION WITH THE FRENCH FABRIC MANUFACTURER MAHLIA KENT AND IS EXCLUSIVE TO EDMUND OOI AW 14/15 COLLECTION.

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- Why did you choose menswear?

MENSWEAR IS MORE CHALLENGING, THERE ARE CERTAIN LIMITATIONS IN MENSWEAR COMPARING TO WOMENSWEAR. MY GOAL IS TO BREAK THEM A LITTLE BY A LITTLE AND MAKE IT A MORE INTERESTING PLACE.

- In your opinion what are the differences between men and women?

I WISH THERE ARE NO DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN, AT LEAST IN THE SENSE OF DRESSING.

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- How did you form the hero-man you dress?

IT IS A CONTINUATION FROM MY PREVIOUS WORK. IT IS A PLAY OF ALTER-EGO AND WHAT’S INSIDE A PERSON WHICH A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO HIDE BUT THIS TIME IT’S DONE IN A MORE SUBTLE WAY.

- Is this the moment of great creativity?

YES. AND NO.

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- How relevant is creativity to the way the fashion industry functions today?

FOR ME TO BE ABLE TO NAIL THE BALANCE BETWEEN FANTASY AND COMMERCIAL IS DEFINITELY A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO EXPRESS CREATIVITY. THIS IS WHAT THE FINANCIAL CRISIS TAUGHT ALL US DESIGNERS BUT IT IS STILL VERY IMPORTANT TO INJECT A STRONG BRAND IDENTITY IN MY WORK.

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