At the heart of Le Laboratoire, Paris, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling panels of photographer Hong Jang Hyun’s images, designer Juun.J sits quietly contemplating his latest detournement. An unconventional presentation of reconceptualised classic garments for both men and women, his work continues its aim to challenge norms whilst shaping the future of Asian “street tailoring”. What is it that fuels collection after collection of innovation? Juun. J reveals the source of his creative drive and direction.
No man is an island entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main;
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
- What is your personal understanding of ‘No Man Is An Island’?
I personally believe that "No man is an island" is about love, because you can't live your life without love - and there's a relationship in the concept. In that love, there's also hatred, anger and all types of mixed emotions.
- Who was the first person whose style influenced you?
I think my mother influenced my style: the 1950's trench coat that was hanging in her wardrobe. I was about six or seven years old, I said to myself, "One day when I grow up, I'll wear that coat." It was probably since then that I started to open my eyes to fashion.
- Who would you say is the person who has had the biggest impact on your career?
Helmut Lang really inspired me. It was only when I took a fashion course that I learned about him and I wanted to be an innovative designer like him. I thought to myself, "I don't want to design just any clothes, I want to design distinctive and revolutionary clothes."
- So, is that a key principle that you rely on?
My personal philosophy is that, "my clothes have to be new". Of course, all designers put their own identity in their work but being persistent is very important; I can still be newer and more innovative with persistence. For me, without being different and new, there's no meaning.
- Who was the last person that made you stop and think?
Oh, that wasn't someone else. It happened just recently. I walked past and looked at myself in the mirror. Then I thought about myself. We look in the mirror everyday, right? But…I don't know, maybe because I had a hard time preparing the collection. I questioned myself, "Am I doing the right thing?" I kind of pitied myself and felt proud. My reflection in the mirror made me stop and think.
- How would you describe the relationship between Juun.J the brand and Juun J the person?
This might make me sound unhappy, but… it would be ideal if my work and home life were separate. However, my life and work seem bound as one.
- What is your take on gender fluidity in fashion?
I perceive it quite positively. Not only regarding fashion but also culture, and everything about work, culture and circumstances. Gender differences will fade away over time, I believe.