Faces Behind the Brand
Our first impression of the brand: dark with spirituality. The pieces are full of contradictions, especially in his experimental line where we see well-sculptured designs that shape the silhouette, but on the other hand, give such a fresh and natural look.
Leonard Wong is in fact well known for his work with leather. He experiments with different kinds of leather, even very controversial ones. However, he is also highly interested in a vegan leather. Why leather is so important for him? To discover that, and aspects of his designing process, and the spirituality behind the designs we asked him for an interview. We met in one of his favorite places in Tokyo, Sheraton Miyako, a place that inspires him.
Who do you design for?
When I talked with a Gucci designer (Hakamagi), he advised me to start with a womenswear, because of the women nature. It is so unbelievable how one women can be so differently perceived depending on a situation. For example my wife, all our friends and people who meet her say she is so kind, sensitive and fragile, which is of course true. However, in some situations, she shows another face, a face of bravery and determination with a hint of intimidation. That is very inspiring.
Hence, until now my collections are dedicated to woman. The reason is simply a fascination and an inspiration of their nature.
Leather plays a big part in your designs, why is it so?
Leather is very durable, but it also has many faces. It is a fascinating material. Depending on a preparation process, it can be very soft or very had. I like hard leather as it shapes one's ideal silhouette. This way the design enhances the features of one's body. At a first glimpse, one can look very sophisticated and because of that, may be perceived as intimidating. However, underneath may lie a soft natured person.
Leather inspires me, because at some point, it is like a women. It can stand a lot, can be very durable, but also vulnerable, at the same time. It all depends how you treat it.
Your experimental collection is inspired by: alchemy, cell segregation and transcending time and space. How did you get interested in those subjects and how do they inspire you?
When our child was born, we discovered our new selves. Something changed in our perception and we started aiming to make the best of ourselves and of our world to provide our child with the best possible environment. We started asking more questions and started thinking more deeply. That is how I got interested in concepts like alchemy, cell segregation and transcending space and time.
Alchemists aimed to create perfect objects. Through the understanding of gnosis they hoped to achieve the perfection of human body and soul (enlightenment), and to make it lasts forever. I create clothes that are like second skin and this skin makes you look and feel perfect.
"When our child was born, we discovered our new selves."
Cell segregation, on the other hand, is the concept that deals with survival, less developed life forms or life forms that cannot accustom to changing conditions are simply eliminated (natural selection). In my understanding, it has to do with a constant personal development. By setting high standards for myself, I create designs that are relevant to current situation, meet customer current needs, but are sometimes a bit mutated. This mutation in my opinion is needed, it foresees futures needs.
The other thing is that past, present and future are intimately related and one cannot be without the other. I believe that the only way to become the best version of yourself is to understand your past and the world’s past. Tradition and art are very important in my opinion. We can only create good designs when we understand the situation (past and present) and at the same time we can see what will be needed in the future, so that the designs are timeless.
A good design improves the day of a person who wears it and in return gives a great satisfaction to the designer. It stimulates and motivates constant improvement with the aim to achieve higher and higher dimensions.
How in your opinion science is/should be connected with designing?
For me science is important from two points of view. First, it allows us to develop better fabrics and designing techniques so that my vision and fantasy can become a reality. Second, science inspires me. Previously mentioned theories (alchemy, cell segregation and transcending time and space) have great impact on my designing process and the way how I perceive the world.
I believe that everything is connected and if someone does not support designing with other disciplines, like science, then that person is missing the potential and hence slow down or even stop the development. And without moving forward, we move backward. The concept of stagnation does not apply in designing.
Photographed by Katsuyoshi Komatsu
Translated by Natsumi
Follow Leonard Wong on Instagram @leonardwong_official