Taking part in Wooyoungmi's My Coat, My Gift
Wooyoungmi began showing in Paris in July 2002 with her eponymous line. With an eye for advanced sartorial details, the designer has since established herself as a must-see show on Paris' packed Sunday schedule. From the very beginning, the designer has been fond of straight and clean graphic cuts and has constructed a design signature of simple, modern and carefully crafted pieces. Each season, her garments are streamlined and enriched with details and styled finishes that reinvent the wardrobe for men without frightening them. Wooyoungmi offers a quiet revolution. Back in June I was fully woo'd by Wooyoungmi. Now, I have long been a member of this party but it wasn't until my trip to Tokyo that I was able to be outfitted for my own covetable uniform. Shortly after I was sent one of the most exciting emails that I've ever received. It was an invitation to take part in the London edition of a Wooyoungmi collaborative project. My Coat, My Gift is a celebration of both the classic Wooyoungmi coat 'No. 51' and the rising creative talent of the world's principal cities. With its slim cut, the No. 51 has become a best seller and is a key component of the brand's offering. Joining forces with Selfridges, My Coat, My Gift offers a selection of creatives the opportunity to re-imagine this classic all for charity. Supporting Art Against Knives, Wooyoungmi are holding an online auction of coats that have been re-imagined jewellery designer Jordan Askill, set designer Gary Card, Selfridges menswear buyer Reece Crisp, Dazed Digital editor David Hellqvist and...me. Now, I'm not ashamed to admit that I let out a little squeal as I read the email because who wouldn't want to collaborate with one of your favourite designers whilst supporting a great charity in the process. However, my initial excitement was then replaced with a feeling of 'why me?!' and a realisation that aside from Crisp, we all could have been related!
With absolutely no background in design and little talent with a pencil it feels extremely odd to think that I've played some part in creating two items. In this instance I was intrigued by a particular Wooyougmi quote. As a menswear designer Wooyoungmi's work is always objective. She sees a real danger of beginning to design what she herself wants to wear, and this she sees as "the worst crime a designer can commit; selfish design." As a menswear designer she can continuously design for her ideal, fresh and ageless man. However, I'm not a menswear designer, I'm just an enthusiast. So, I decided to do the opposite and design for myself whilst hopefully making the most money I possibly could for Art Against Knives. So, as with my approach to the sixbysixbloggers project, I thought about what I'm obsessed with during this season. When I'm not kicking my way through Autumn leaves, I confirm my love of layers and fabric combinations. For me, one of the real highlights of Autumn is getting dressed on those chilly mornings. I can layer, wrap and protect myself in an assortment of comfortable and practical fabrics.
Given that I was already a huge fan of the No. 51 coat and new its streamlined nature well, my first task was to create a mood board. Once again as a starting point, I turned to Fantastic Man's October Look from 2009 because this layered harvest festival celebration of an Autumn outfit is forever imprinted on to my tiny mind. Then my thoughts bounced from Celine's minimal mastery to Casely-Hayford's protective armour showcased in recent Autumn/Winter collections. Once accumulated these images were accompanied with the key words...texture, layers, protection, fabric play (leather, tweed, wool, waxed cotton) With the help of Wooyoungmi's talented design team, the task to transform my excited ramblings in to a cohesive garment was a surprisingly simple one...
The first sketch of My Coat, My Gift.
The talented bunch at Wooyoungmi managed to accumulate and make sense of my wants and wishes in their very first sketch. It was full of texture, layers and fabric play. They had even included arm tubes for added protection! What could be more perfect? All that was needed on my part was a few tweaks. These minor alterations included greater leather detailing on the cuffs and collar whilst making the wooly arm tubes detachable. Alongside the sketch I was given a choice of six tweed swatches that were to be used on the body. After some umming and arghing, I made my decision and then that was pretty much that. Two weeks later and the design elves had been hard at work to realise my coat.
The resulting collaborations are currently being showcased in a special pop up event inside Selfridges men's contemporary section on the 1st floor. The launch event was a couple of weeks ago now so apologies for the delay in this write up (the lovely Anastasia Duck has already offered his) but I wanted to give it the thought it really deserved. The space is quite something so if you can please do pop in to have a closer look at the finished coats...
Of course, it was amazing to have the opportunity to rework one of my favourite designer's most recognised pieces (not to mention meet the lovely sister's themselves) but the real reason for this whole collaboration is to raise money for Art Against Knives, a charity using creativity to tackle knife crime in the capital. One of these Wooyoungmi collaborator coats can be yours...
I believe that the live auction will run on Wooyoungmi's twitter space from midday November 1st and will close at midnight November 6th but to be on the safe side please do register beforehand. Once bidding opens you can make yours by @woo_youngmi @stevewooyoungmi 'amount bid'… happy bidding!