The Touch of Tai

The Touch of Tai

Apologies for the posting gap.  Some of you will know that I'm currently doing my usual stint in Paris of covering shows for Dazed Digital so I'm temporarily decamped back to my old hat of running ragged during shows, chasing after designers for backstage interviews and scouring the front row for interesting people to pounce on.  

In the meantime, I've got another phrase to reconsider and get all pedantic about.  Geek chic – another odious turn of phrase (although not quite as bad as pretending that the word "rock" actually referred to something genuinely rock n' roll) for multiple reasons but mainly because it's become a lazy tag to label anyone/anything that features a heavy black pair of specs.  Bung on some Woody Allen-esque glasses and BAM, it's apparently GEEK CHIC!  When I saw Macao-born, London-based designer Steven Tai 's S/S 13 collection, centred around bookish types enjoying all the pleasures of a library, I immediately thought that geek chic needed a redefinition, one that fitted what Tai had produced  Tai ransacked bolts of fabric to create layer upon layer of texture in ways that mean many of the silhouettes in this graduate crossover S/S 13 collection are exaggerated to the extreme.  Take for instance the suspender trousers which are bulked up at the waistband with multiple layers to form a rigid waistline.  The layers refer to pages in a book as do the woven embossed texture, resembling papyrus.  The shredded crepe with embroidered fish embedded underneath the threads is a potently sweet and craft-based gesture from Tai.  Every rough edge, awkward silhouette and deceptive tears and gaps in the fabric have a geekish obssessive quality to it as you look up close and it all looks even more complicated than at first glance.      

Tai takes his inner geek to another level as he made catwalk waves with his pen nib dress that was constructed from 795 fountain pen nibs, each one mounted on tiny motors so that they spun round with adjustable speed, creating a hypnotic shimmer.  Watch the video to believe it and spot Tai's father in the video helping his son to install the motors.  These technological feats make you think of the possibilities of designers putting their mind at work and maybe getting fabric embellishment to move in this way.  If moving particles on garments aren't your thing, then at the very least, his methodology of fabric innovation – layering pieces together, cutting up huge amounts of fabric to create these brilliant textures and knowing that every rip and tear is highly strategic – would impress most.  It certainly did that at this year's Hyeres festival, as Tai won the Chloe prize of EUR10,000, impressing a jury presided over by Yohji Yamamoto.  For Tai, he's keen on carrying on the MA and he definitely has the foundation to be given the Louise Wilson-once over in her legendarily scary lessons.  Here's hope he raises enough to get there eventually…     















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  1. liz

    2012-09-28 at 3:13 AM

    amazing post! I love this model!!

  2. deuxchambres

    2012-09-28 at 4:38 AM

    pure art. i feel inspired.

  3. Elvis Trujillo

    2012-09-28 at 8:00 AM

    What a collection! They are looking good.

  4. Sari Purdy

    2012-09-28 at 8:02 AM

    Nice piece of art I must say.

  5. Olivia Grace Bassett

    2012-09-28 at 8:02 AM

    I think the best thing about this, apart from the extraordinary clothes, is that for once the photo shoot actually looks like they had some fun – I bet the model was refreshingly surprised to be asked to yawn and smile!

  6. Rigoberto McClure

    2012-09-28 at 8:28 AM

    This is really amazing art! I just love how that outfit collection gives out a beautiful impression!

  7. Noe Farrell

    2012-09-28 at 8:29 AM

    Wow! So impressive collection! Look really unique and funny indeed! Bravo!!!

  8. Rosemary Schmidt

    2012-09-28 at 8:32 AM

    Awesome! I love the model; looks actually brilliant and beautiful; Great killing smiles there!

  9. anne

    2012-09-28 at 9:58 AM

    that model is so cute.
    beautiful clothes I love the cuts
    and the colour palette.

  10. Rhoda Wong

    2012-09-28 at 11:53 AM

    the whole layering concept is super cool while giving it the perfect dramatic structured effect!

  11. Monica Smith

    2012-09-28 at 12:09 PM

    I often wonder how all these folks you write about earn a living or is it investors who fund endlessly or are we talking the upper 5%.

  12. The Provoker

    2012-09-28 at 3:43 PM

    Great detail shots, I love the rough and raw edges, sort of reminds me of phoebe english’s works with the rough cotton/calico looks. I can totally see DSM stocking these. Ok, I’ve just uploaded my five looks for five days of London Fashion Week, so if you’re looking to judge what this UK blogger/provoker wore to LFW, then may I suggest you in having a lil’ look see, provoking comments are always appreciated big time lol.
    xx The Provoker

  13. Eyespectacle

    2012-09-28 at 5:07 PM

    What a clever use of volumes, some pieces remind me of something Victor&Rholf did a while ago on evening gowns! The fine metal frames are definitively setting a trend 😉 Very inspiring!

  14. Grieg

    2012-09-28 at 5:57 PM

    beautiful dresses, it looks very simple but very stylish, i like that you use art in your style, its kind of like an architectural dress, very inspired, thanks!

  15. Sara M

    2012-09-28 at 6:13 PM

    I really enjoy Steven’s work- particularly the fact that the “nerd” aesthetic is embedded in his construction and inspirations, as opposed to “slapped” on in the way one throws a pair of glasses at a look and calls it “geek chic”. Also, his characterisation of the bespectacled, brace-wearing bookworm is refreshing in that she’s animated, rather than morose- and such a light-hearted facet of the ethos he applies to producing his work!
    I’m interested to see if the Tai girl will be stepping off-campus into the corporate world anytime soon- & if she does, is she done with that jacket…?

  16. Cristián Pavez Díaz

    2012-09-28 at 11:21 PM

    Very nice material blends!! Loved it!!
    Greetings from Santiago, Chile.
    Twitter: @cristianpavezd

  17. Tara

    2012-09-29 at 12:18 AM

    Please forgive me, Susie, because I believe it is near impossible to comment on this post without using the “G Word”.
    “Geek chic” has become, arguably, the most hackneyed phrase in the fashion world. And – as you implied – its fundamental qualities never seem to change. That’s why, like you, I find Tai’s collection more than a focused, well-crafted set of designs, but a breath of fresh air, so to speak. It’s pretty much “geek chic” deconstructed. Tai has torn up the rulebook and moulded the “geek” into something much, much more evocative than a “heavy black pair of specs” ever could.
    Best Wishes,

  18. EEsaekiyan

    2012-09-29 at 2:45 PM


  19. Anna

    2012-09-29 at 8:36 PM

    Evokes me to university projects, which I love.

  20. mayathapapaya

    2012-09-30 at 11:17 AM

    braces and glasses seem to be really in right now… i like it.
    the clothes are perfect, i love how nothing seems to be hemmed and the edges of the fabric are really rough and beautiful.
    the models facial expressions just do it for me though- perfect.

  21. Leann

    2012-09-30 at 2:38 PM

    Seriously, he¬¥s amazing. And I love your blog, Faved! (I wanted to follow via Bloglovin’, do you have that?)

  22. Lisa Rimmer

    2012-09-30 at 9:18 PM

    loving the texture. simple colours contrasted with a lot of texture always make for a beautiful creation. nice work!

  23. Joshua

    2012-10-01 at 9:29 AM

    This is really amazing art. I am inspired by it.

  24. mia

    2012-10-02 at 6:17 PM

    this is SO beautiful

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