Andrew Gn decided to call his fall outing “Roots” for a number of reasons. First, he wanted it to reflect his Asian heritage. His stature as Singapore’s most famous fashion designer has rightfully warranted a major retrospective at his hometown’s Asian Civilizations Museum, which opens with grand opening in May and runs through September. This is a major honor and a milestone. But that’s not the only point.
“Today, when you talk about roots, it’s not just about where you were born, it’s about where you’ve been in life,” the designer said in an interview with the showroom preview . The fall collection thus represents Gn’s entire life story, aptly photographed here in the recently refurbished Musée Carnavalet’s gilded woodwork.
For example, a dress with an iris border and the designer’s signature butterfly: this piece was inspired by a kimono that probably dates back to the turn of the last century and belonged to Gn’s Japanese grandmother . For fall, Gn revisits its motifs, which were hand-painted in gouache and watercolor in his Paris studio, then printed in Lyon and pressed into Fortuny pleats using old-school techniques, bridging the gap between Japanese and French traditions.
Gn places great value on traditional craftsmanship, translating his passion for late century art movements such as William Morris prints into a brand identity. This season, he pays homage to vintage Boucheron with metallic antique gold, copper brocade, jewel tones and embellishments such as vintage lace, feathers and jewel details. (“Husbands love my pieces because you don’t have to invest in any more jewelry,” he says.) A simple 60 transformation, like changing a rich green from avocado to emerald , is decorated with dyed rhinestones. The white flared cheongsam shape may have ’60s style puff sleeves and lace polka dots, inspired by the Vienna Secession. A pleated slip dress in pleated teal channeled Marilyn Monroe through Gn-land. Elsewhere, what appeared to be an embellished white blouse with a bronze chrysanthemum brocade skirt was actually a trompe l’oeil dress with vintage Art Deco lace on the bib, reproduced by Solstice especially for Gn.
New for the season is the Victorian rose chintz motif, reinterpreted in coral or earth tones and finished with jeweled buttons. The Regency Coromandel lacquer screens the designer had picked up in England were turned into a rich chocolate print, “making me see the East from the West, and from the way I live now,” he says.
Gn feels that Parisians depend on the moment. Fluent in Mandarin, he often spends his spare time getting up to speed on Asian pop culture via Weibo and YouTube. “There’s a European/Anglo-Saxon side and an Eastern side and I don’t think you have to make a decision,” he offered. “To be a whole person, you need both.”
This series embodies this worldview. I bet it will resonate with Gn’s loyal customers no matter where they are.