The now familiar ringing tone of zoom drops out and I’m connected with Apu Jan in his studio in Taipei, but it’s not the same Apu Jan that I’ve interviewed each season since his debut nearly a decade ago, perhaps its the reduction in travel and being less nomadic, but the restrictions over the last year appear to have made him more reflective in his thought and vision, I’d just watched his show online and dotted in the sets photographs, the actors and the collection itself were little bread crumb trails through the history of the label so I thought that was a great place to start the discussion.
“The photo’s and other pieces are from previous shows, its a way of saying we want to work with these people again, we’ve had a moment of reflection due to the pandemic, we also wanted to demonstrate the labels heritage”.
But make no mistake, Apu may be in a reflective mood, but its a forward thinking reflection rather than a retrospective one of what has passed. One of the things I’ve always notice about the Taiwanese designer is how inquisitive he is, filled with a curiosity about the things around him and beyond him, while quiet you always know he is taking everything in or looking for new ideas, even in these days of enforced retreat, and that’s where the films he’s made during Covid come in.
“I’ve had to push myself into other situations, in the old days I would always meet people from different cultures and experiences, in the end making a movie has led to meeting new people from other industries instead”.
The videos themselves are almost cinematic, the runway sections intertwined with an episode that could be a drama on Netflix, as I talk to him about it he comes alive.
“This was the first time we pushed this element so far, we can build a world more than before, everything can be moved to another place. With the video you can add more elements, more story, more details, and more music (As ever Apu has teamed up with international DJ & music producer DJ Question Mark). Over the last year we’ve had to find a way to speak our story”.
Given how much he has enjoyed presenting in a new format, does this mean the end for those must see shows in London?
We don’t know what will happen, we’ll still have to learn and think about digital though, I still want to have at least another show as I still have runway ideas, there are still many stories to tell.
How had he found mixing the concept of runaway with the theatrical nature of drama?
At a fashion show the viewer is in control, you can see what you want, shoes, hair, clothes, if a cameraman sees an actor, they want to follow their face but we need to find a balance to the the collection.
The story did have a huge plot twist though, his first menswear, but as with all good endings, I’ll leave that as a cliff hanger
Ross Pollard, Emerging Fashion Designers Editor