JENN LEE was established in 2012, and is now based in Berlin, Germany.
Designer Lee graduated from London College of Fashion in 2011. Before starting JENN LEE, Lee interned at Alexander McQueen under Gucci Group, and London based fashion designer Felicity Brown.
She tries to find the perfection within imperfection, and to discover the missing pieces from all the broken and chaotic remains.
Freedom, Love and Peace.
You are from Taiwan and studied in London and now you are in Berlin, how do all these cultures reflect in your work?
I think that the European experience makes me particularly concerned about humanism and land.
In April this year, I published 2016 Spring/ Summer collection with a fashion show in the streets of Taipei Xinyi District. “Freedom” is the show of the spindle.
“Freedom”, when I told people around Im intentionally planning a show, all because of this idea, one by one they jumped into the circle. New friends and old acquaintances, we had nearly 100 volunteers, all with their own specialty, they set the show on fire. At this time, as the designer, I was not the protagonist, the protagonists are everyone involved – co authoring. This was an out of the box fashion show, a field of love and peace, belonging to young-spirited souls. A non- materialist accumulation of the ideals of youth, bursting with energy.
Back to where the story started- last summer. British Glastonbury festival, stepping boots, I walked alone in the mud, watching a flying flag in the sky, and the only thought in my mind was “If my friends could be with me, it would be the most wonderful thing.” “I wish you were here, I want to put the best clothes on you!” After returning to Taiwan, I began to create the 2016 Spring/ Summer collection.
In the past, I was always using “black” as the main color, surrounded by “Repressed” “Restraint” topics. Glastonbury inspired me; I was deliberately ignoring colors, pursuing ‘Black’ as serious art- an inner desire for freedom. “Freedom” is my new starting point, tales of love, peace and vitality. I am continuing my twisted and deconstructional techniques, using land with sunset as the basic color, cooperating with Taiwan hand-dye artist and Taiwan tattoo artist, every piece is all unique and handmade.
What are your influences and where do you get inspiration from?
My past creations were more based on personal emotions and desires. Before I released my 2014 autumn/ winter collection, I went to London largest Fetish Party- Torture garden; filled with men and women dressed in leather rubber clothing; twisted bodies; whips masters, holding a dog masked man; thin eyebrows heavy makeup ladies, nipples covered with pink hearts, shaking with white lace garters- a surreal visual impact. After returning to Taiwan, I began to prepare for the next season on a theme of “Bondage”, contacted Taiwan’s BDSM community and learned about Japanese Shibari.
The new season “Freedom” is also an extension of the past.
Now I think, a more inclusive creation has jumped out based on more than only on personal emotion and feeling.
How did you decide to become a fashion designer?
I never set myself to go this particular road. Taiwanese education is more to the right-wing. In fact, it is not very easy to guide children to their own preferences. When I was a kid, I just knew that I like to dress up, but didn’t even know “Fashion” can be a career.
By coincidence, I entered London College of Fashion, before graduation, I honestly didn’t think “clothes making” will be a never-give-up goal. Until my graduation show, the process of self- exploration and presentation, that sudden surge of adrenaline pleasure, I instantly realized that is what I want, an incredible small inner outbreak of the universe.
Creation of beauty, a vitality through “hand”, is what I sought.
When you were a kid, were you interested in fashion?
Very much, I loved dressing up, I always enjoyed styling my friends also. To be honest, I was pretty superficial, always felt satisfied to have a group of friends dressing up cool. Ha Ha.
Your designs sometimes border on art, which artists do you look up to?
I did not focus on specialized artists, but when I came to Berlin, I began to have an interest in contemporary art and modern architecture, and new ideas. While in my London period, I was more focused on the exploration of the old.
What are you working on at the moment?
I launched my 2016 Spring/ Summer in April, the collection is being exhibited in a gallery in Poland. Currently I am preparing for the new creations for next year’s Autumn/ Winter.
Interview by Amanda Akiyama