Being in Asia has really opened my eyes to fresh design talent: everywhere you look there are amazing styles, colours and fashion. One of the highlights for me was seeing the Harper’s Bazaar New Asian Designer Competition and encountering the work of such a diverse group of young designers, all unique, who I first introduced in Winning At Fashion – With Harper’s Bazaar. The final winner of the contest, Harvee Kok, shone brightly with his unusual fabrics and shapes.
I was lucky enough recently to chat with him about the inspiration behind his designs, which are truly edgy and fresh. Engaging and effortlessly creative, I think you’ll agree he definitely has a stellar future ahead.
DV: Hi Harvee, first of all, congratulations! You must be so excited to win the Harper’s Bazaar prize. How does it feel? HK: Thank you, I didn’t expect it too much. I feel grateful because people appreciated the conceptual aspect of my works.
Tell us about the Harper’s competition process itself, is it a new contest? How long did the whole process take? Harper’s Bazaar Asia New Generation Fashion Designer Awards is the first ever Asia Fashion Designer competition run by Harper’s Bazaar editorial staff in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Each country chose Top 2 winners from their own country to compete at BIFW (Bangkok International Fashion Week) 2013, in Thailand.
I have been developing my inspiration over the last year. I always try to make something different from my previous collection and experiment with new construction and details. The Harper’s competition was an excellent platform for me to present my work to a broader audience.
I feel truly thankful for their opinions on my collection… pushing me to the next level.Harvee Kok
From some of the films we saw, it seemed like there was such a sense of camaraderie! Did you make good friends amongst the other contestants? How did it feel to be mentored by such an accomplished group of judges? Yes, this competition definitely made me feel we are like a team and we all performed our best to the audiences. I was learning a lot from all the talented contestants, appreciating their efforts and their passion for fashion. I had great opportunities to share my thoughts and attitude towards fashion by meeting the group of judges, and I feel truly thankful for their opinions on my collection, it is pushing me to the next level.
What was the inspiration behind your winning collection?
There are no ultimate limits on the possibilities of being.HK
The S/S 2014 collection “Bipolarity” was inspired by “Go” (Chinese: 围棋), a strategic board game for two players, which originates from China more than 2,500 years ago. The GO game reflects many elements of Eastern philosophy, which are similar to the Yin & Yang theory rooted in Daoism. I decided to apply black and white (grey) into this collection which based on Yin and Yang colour combination. The two players alternately place black and white playing pieces, called “stones”. Therefore, I was using metallic beads place on the checkered texture fabrics to create the feel of playing Go game on the garments. The complexity of the game is not understandable with logic, which shows parallels to the Buddhist philosophy of enlightenment. The Buddhist point is that potentiality precedes actuality. There are no ultimate limits on the possibilities of being. This inspired me to use zippers to transform the silhouette into new shapes and interesting details.
It’s not easy being a young designer anywhere: we need to concern ourselves with a lot of things like financial issues, buyers, publicity and many more. Malaysia is still considered conservative in its fashion sense, and sometimes I feel like I am struggling to let people here understand my works. To be honest, most people here don’t really take in the creativity of local designers.
Your prize was a scholarship to a Master’s in Fashion design at a UK university. When will you go, and what are your hopes for your time there? My prize was a scholarship to a Master’s Degree in Fashion and Luxury Brand Management at Instituto Marangoni in London for 15 months, which will start in October 2014. I hope I can get a job offer in London after I finish my course because I think London has more opportunities for me to fulfil my dreams as a fashion designer.
Internationally Britain is known for quirky style, are there any British designers who you find exciting?Phoebe Philo, I love her aesthetic to the fashion and her magic touch to the garments.
We’ve heard Malaysia is a fascinating place, and London is too! Have you been before? What are you looking forward to seeing? I have never been to London before. London is a fashion capital, and I believe being there will help me improve my skills and open my eyes to a whole new world. Absorbing new knowledge and building social networks will help me to grow and realise my business aspirations.
So when are you going? If it’s next fall, will you still be designing for your collection until then? We’d love to see it! I will start my sponsorship course at London on Oct 2014 but I hope I can create a Menswear capsule collection before I continue my study in London next year.
Tell us about your other inspirations.
Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher always inspired me. I am impressed by his mathematical art, impossible constructions, and explorations of infinity, architecture and tessellations.
I will keep my passion for fashion.
Harvee, we’re excited for you! Any hopes and wishes for the future you’d like to tell us about? I wish to create a new kind of fashion experience in future and open up people’s vision. Of course, I hope to have investors to support my creations. I really hope I can sell my designs around the world, whether through online selling, multi-brand stores or my own boutiques. I will keep my passion for fashion and move forward to next big step in my life.
FIND: Harvee Kok On Facebook:
- Photographer: Zhong Lin
- Stylist: Alan Ooi
- Model: Evon. T