The 5 pm slot on Paris Fashion Week isn’t easy. Yet in what used to be a disused car park on Rue Béranger, Libération, Hong Kong’s talents managed to hold their own. This hidden gem of a venue, spanning seven floors and boasting vistas of the Parisian landscape including the Eiffel Tower, is fast becoming a hit on the circuit - it hosted a Sacai event last week. Neon pink lights hit stark white walls with beams of colour; the fashion crowd wait in line to cram into the lift and ascend the concrete jungle.
Up five floors, we are in for an unexpected treat. Ffixxed Studios - a six-season regular on the platform - are gardening, yes gardening, in the expansive space. Hydroponic gardening, to be precise. Male and female models languish around lush green lettuces in the most glamorous of ways, watering and spraying plants between poses. Visually, this collection advances the duo’s design vision yet key tropes are still securely in place: relaxed unisex daywear separates in quality fabrics sit alongside padded and embroidered outerwear in checks and floral prints; silhouettes are loose and layered – Ffixxed Studios at its most relaxed, and possibly accessible. Who would have thought that demure gardening chic could lay a claim to elegance?
“It’s about D.I.Y. culture and self-sufficiency,” Fiona Lau, one half of the brand explains. “We are always interested in these lifestyle movements...this idea of going back to the land, but of course it’s done a Ffixxed way.” For AW’19, this means “a modern day Amish take on farming gardening.” Notable for its laid-back, understated style, Ffixxed Studios has recently relocated to Shanghai from Shenzhen. As such, this is a final outing with Fashion Farm Foundation (FFF) platform. It will be interesting to see the long term benefits. According to Lau, prospects are good: “Business continues to expand, predominately in Asia. Philippines, Korea and Singapore and then moving to Shanghai, it’s all about Asia at the moment.”
Supported by Create Hong Kong, this is FFF’s second season to use this format: supporting eight designers including Ka Way Key, Car|2ie, Sun-Sen, Yeung Chin and YLY studio alongside producing presentations from Ffixxed Studios and The World Is Your Oyster at Libération. Each brand was able to present one look with integrated technology at the event as well as receiving funding for a showroom. It will also support Anaïs Jourden’s runway show on schedule next week.
“Fashion Farm needs new blood and different brands deserve to be showcased so that’s why we rotate talent”
“Our programme is to nurture brands,” states Edith Law, Chairlady of Fashion Farm Foundation. “A brand like Ffixxed have grown tremendously – not only because of our support – but being in Paris has obviously helped them in terms of marketing and so on. Likewise Anais Jourden, she is very much doing her own effort, and you can see the results speak for themselves, but we are happy that we can partially fund her show here at PFW.” Law adds that appetites in fashion are fickle too and that FFF needs “new blood.”
Hence, the second showcase one floor up. “The World Is Your Oyster (TWIYO) or brands like this deserve to have a showcase so that’s why we rotate,” Law comments regarding the change in line-up. Joyce Kun, one half of TWIYO, is excited about the opportunity to be in Paris this season. “It’s hard for us to do a presentation in Paris in terms of budget etc., so they [FFF] were really useful in terms of helping this happen or making this possible for us.”
The duo, a couple based in Hong Kong, have tapped global precariousness this season and explored it via deconstructed silhouettes and distorted fabrications in a surreal presentation that coincides with dusk in Paris. “Actually, we are inspired by uncertainty in life, but we look for the hope and beauty you can find there,” Kun says. “This season we explored this in tie-dye techniques and also in cut-out details – they are like the unknown represented by a shape for people to consider – it’s all open for exploration.”
Despite the fall in attendance numbers this season (Law put it down to conflicts in schedules), and swathes of open space in the carpark (showrooms? Interactive spaces? AI?) no one can deny that the efforts of the Hong Kong government to incubate talent. But perhaps the strategy needs a little more gardening.