London designer Robert Wun shares his take on futuristic feminist fashion
Welcome to the planet Robert Wun, a daring new world where feminism, escape and futurism meet to form an exciting and never-before-seen fashion model. New is the oxygen that powers the creations of this Hong Kong-born, London-based designer, while his winged imagination is their cornerstone.
His mind rebels against recreating or repackaging what has been done before. “I like to imagine what things would be like in my world,” says Robert, 30, while chatting with us on Zoom from his studio in East London. “And for that, I usually go back to my roots. Whether it was the music or the films that inspired me, sci-fi scraps like The Arrival by Denis Villeneuve, or the Studio Ghibli stories, ”he adds.
From second-hand shopping and second-hand clothing transformation at age 11, to graduation from London College of Fashion in 2012 and launching her namesake brand two years later, to the clothing of celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Celine Dion and Solange Knowles since then, Robert’s growth as an artist, designer and entrepreneur has been exponential. Adept at communicating directly with his audience, he considers his Instagram page (@robertwun) as his trusted portfolio.
“For me, futurism signals limitless possibilities, limitless imagination. It also means optimism and moving forward. Futurism is a rejection of mediocre fashion; its infinity can make it deep, ”Robert shares his thoughts.
Take the plane
Unlimited is at the heart of Robert Armor’s Fall / Winter ’21 collection. A sincere ode to the most important women in his life: his mother, his sister, his friends, but above all his grandmother, who died in October of last year. As with his other collections, Robert manages to skillfully oscillate between his two favorite realms – science fiction and nature – to create “an army that could go to Heaven” with his beloved grandmother.
The multicolored collection sees her grandmother’s favorite bird, the swallow, transformed into a futuristic mythical creature. The soft pleats are cut into contoured formations like a swallowtail and give the impression of being made from a sturdy material like metal. Bursting with visceral shades of pink, yellow, red, cobalt blue and turquoise, the pleated dresses blend into a cascade of straps and austere silhouettes, channeling both the forces of nature and sci-fi. Robert’s razor-sharp design aesthetic is skillfully supported by a masterful pattern cut. Whether it’s the spotted orchid dress, the magpie costume, or the variety of armor outfits, the designer cleverly juggles shapes, shapes and layers.
While the pandemic slowed down most of his contemporaries due to limited access to labor and materials, Robert doubled down and put in 15 hours a day to release this collection. “You don’t take things for granted. You work harder. The moment you give up, all is lost. I inherited this spirit and work ethic from my mother, sister and grandmother, ”he says.
Slide to see a detailed preview of the armor:
Rewind and fast forward
Robert’s idea of feminism is informed by women in his family – from his grandmother who brought his father to Hong Kong from China during the post-civil war period and raised him as a mother. single against thick and thin, to his own mother who has been working and studying since the age of 12. Add to that the lingering influence of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, which feature women in strong central characters who don’t need to be rescued by men. “Oh, I grew up with all of his movies,” he recalls.
Robert, who sees himself as a minority, draws his strength from the struggles of women against an authoritarian society. “As a Chinese designer in London, you always navigate between your East Asian heritage and your identity as an internationally renowned designer,” he says, referring to the expectation of color designers to stick to talking about their heritage. “So in me there is this spirit of fighting the system,” he says.
As critical as Robert is of the hierarchical structure of the fashion industry, he is satisfied with the progress made and finding his place in it. “Designers need to challenge beauty standards. Young people today can’t even connect with the idea that beauty is represented by just one type of body or skin, which was all there was in the past, ”he says. , sharing his optimism about the future of diversity in fashion. “We have to listen to young people.
Find the latest issue of ELLE on the stands or download your digital copy here.