Fashion designer Agnes Choi is re-inserting the quintessential look of East Asia’s older generations for a contemporary audience. For anyone that is a fan of the accidental Asian hipster look or the Asian grandma chic aesthetic (myself included), Agnes’ latest collection Limination, draws on themes of cultural nostalgia to inform her fashion collection.
Limination explores the nuances of the Australian-born Chinese identity. The SS19 collection reimagines the “woven crystal toys that Aunties would gift” youngsters into fashionable beaded tops. The garments see cheap, mass-manufactured commodities transformed through high-end design. And in turn, the collection evokes sentimental nostalgia for anyone that’s had an East Asian granny who pottered around in a wide-brimmed hat and a silk collared shirt buttoned up to the top.
If you’ve ever been to a street market in Asia, you will recognise the coral coloured fabric adorned with baby blue flowers, abundantly available in just about every basic form of clothing. Agnes elevates the fabric from its cheap ubiquity into beautifully crafted garments with “emotive intentions”. Specifically, the tops have a “destabilised tailoring element” that loosens the rigidity of a suit’s blazer chest “to deconstruct power elements embedded within the Western blazer”.
Speaking to It’s Nice That, Agnes also discusses the “references from early-2000s Hong Jong TVB visuals” that are digitally printed onto fabrics. She references an essay by Ilya Parkins from 2012 about the power of nostalgia in fashion. In the essay, Parkins expresses the significance of nostalgia which can “prompt reflection on the relationship between present and former identities, whether those be personal, group or even national identities.” Limination indeed embodies the collective sense of dress that is seen on older East Asians and has more recently seen a resurgence amongst young people in the West, otherwise known as a “hipster”.
On wearing the clothes, Agnes hopes the clothes will offer “an emotional connection to nostalgic elements within the designs," adding how she wants “the collection can offer courage for those that feel they don’t belong and give strength and hope to other ethnic minorities”.
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