"When I was interning at Duckie Brown in New York I watched a lot of Korean dramas in the evening and one of my favourites was set in an emergency room," London College of Fashion BA soon-to-be-graduate Patrick Um explains in his soft but excited manner. As we stand in his adopted East London home-turned-studio, surrounded by all manner of analytical artifacts and his colourful clothes, excitement echoes throughout the cosy space. "It was at a time when my mind began to wander through various subjects for my final collection," he admits before dashing off for a moment and returning with a cup of coffee. "To be honest I struggled to choose one and it was only when I was relaxing that the idea came to me as I watched the drama. I was intrigued by the instruments and intensity of the hospital." Now, the mere mention of the words 'hospital' and 'surgery' can be enough to encourage daydreams of dread, an aura of anxiety giving way to despair but Um pressed his stethoscope to the clinical, cold body of the theatre room and his eager ear tuned in to a different beat. A remix of function and fun, a chromatic concerto of capsules, contraptions, confections, cures and curiosities.
Having interned for the colourful crew of Cassette Playa, Trine Lindegaard, Peter Jensen, Gareth Pugh and most recently Duckie Brown, it was obvious that this emerging talent would avoid the obvious. "I intentionally refrained from making the collection too cold and chic. I wanted to create my own complete version of a surgeon's uniform, presenting them from top to toe in my own way." The grey, sterile and muted world of the surgeon is transformed under Um's skilfully wielded scalpel.
The patient's charts. A look inside Patrick Um's research portfolio.
Undressing and redressing the surgeon, the surgeon's uniform is translated into boyish, playful, contemporary menswear. This is a collection that revels in the beauty of details, both the familiar and the fantastical (tweezers as clip fastenings, an inspired idea!). From head to toe, garments reference and evolve from specific details from the workwear. Back loop fastenings, tight cuff bands and special seam closures are just a vinyl gloved handful of details that are stitched in to the final collection. With prints rich in the iconography of the trade carefully balanced experimental constructions and textiles, a precise yet playful beauty is achieved. The resulting garments are drenched in designed details just longing to be discovered but it is the nine prints that instantly capture this viewer's imagination.
"This is the first time that I've created my own prints. It's a difficult process but one that I very much enjoyed and would like to explore further." The prints were initially inspired by Damien Hirst's Pharmacy Restaurant. I searched the Internet and scanned images of medicines before rearranging them to create intricate and colourful designs. Medicines can be beautiful."
Are you ready for your prescription? Dr. Um's team will see you now...
Look book images courtesy of Patrick Um, detail shots our own.
Having watched on in awe as surgeons performed intricate miracles on Korean television and rifled through Damien Hirst's medicine cabinets, Patrick Um manages to inject his own emotion in to the emotionless, add warmth to the cold and bring life to the quiet. If only we could peer through this emerging talent's kaleidoscope every time we visited the doctors surgery, accident and emergency or anything else for that matter.