Diving for Pearls, 2019

Concerned with the loss of collective memory and anxious about the imminent disappearance of Hong Kong’s autonomy, a nostalgic office worker attempts to travel back to the time when Hong Kong was a nomadic fishing village. While diving through time portals to various points in the city’s history, his tailored wardrobe is warped, and he finds himself lost in the site of a wet market.

“Diving for Pearls” hyperbolises the paradoxical act of nostalgia through this imagined narrative of the sentimental office worker. Through a whirlwind bricolage, a series of double exposures form the collection, where encapsulated spaces (both real and imagined) develop a new hybrid language of dressing. Simultaneously, the collection poses the question to locate and re-evaluate where this postcolonial symptom of nostalgia comes from.

Through strategic cutting and draping around the contours of the body, the images of conventional garments are superimposed on one another. Garments begin to lose their expected functions and morph into new meanings, while retaining the memory of what they used to be. A curved slash on a trouser leg transforms it into a raglan silhouette; deconstructed trompe l’oeil garments emerge from seams and wrap around the body; tailoring closures are fused into unexpected seam lines.

The visuals of spatial synthesis are evoked through the clash of traditionally masculine fabrics—wool gabardine and houndstooth, with the artifice and irreverence of latex, resin, and rubber. Through techniques of hand dyeing and silkscreen printing, corporate browns and greys are jolted with shades of electric yellow, neon red, sage green, and pale lilac. Pieced rubberised knits create a new form of netting, corseting around an idea of a mens tailored jacket. Lush silk velvets are given ombré and devoré treatments, encapsulating a phantom image of the imagined home.

The collection’s unconventional combination of a tactile mix of fabrics and techniques captures the confusion between the actual home with an imaginary one. Can a place that has slipped out of reach be reclaimed by means of nostalgia? Should it ever be?