One of the highlight shows at 2012 MBFWA, Bowie Wong’s couture runway showcased his unique approach to design. Combining his overseas experience with his work in top-class musicals Bowie has create a stunning collection of couture gowns. Couturing was lucky enough to interview the talented Bowie to find out more about his experiences in the fashion industry and some of the exciting things he has planned for his label.
1. You studied Pure Design in Japan, and Stage and Costume Design in Canada before settling in Australia and launching your eponymous label. How did your time overseas help you get where you are today?
To be honest, there is a plus and minus to this. On the plus side, you are exposed to many techniques, understanding of cultures and you are then able to merge these experiences together, which drive my creativity. The minus side, is that it is difficult to link one particular nationality to my style so people find me difficult to define (although you could turn this into a plus side if you look at it the right way!)
2. Your collection was one of the standout shows at MBFWA. Can you tell us more about your latest collection Aura, and how the legend of The Lady of the Lake inspired your beautiful pieces?
Aura stands for the layers of light surrounding a person and the highest layers are the colours white, silver and gold… Which is why there are so many white dresses in this collection. The black within the collection is to balance the white and to show the other side to purity. There are always two sides to a story… right?
3. You collaborated with industry heavyweights Kevin Murphy, Napoleon Perdis and stylist Sophia Banks-Coloma for your recent runway show to ensure every element was perfect. How important are runway shows to showing the industry and the public your stunning designs?
On the whole, when people see my designs, they ask me “It’s lovely, but who is going to wear it?” But for me, a runway show is a collaborative event with other artists and it gives us a chance to express ourselves… In this way, we hope that the public can come to understand what it is we do and also learn to respect out titles as designers and artists. It is not meant as straightforward a commercial activity and I hope people can look deeper than that to see the story and the effort that goes into a show.
4. Fashion is a notoriously competitive industry. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced starting your label?
Every season, every year you find yourself facing a different challenge. I’ve had my label now for 12 years and I still can’t predict what’s going to happen! The challenge therefore, is to learn how to be flexible in a changing environment.
5. You are becoming well known for pushing the boundaries of fashion technique. Your recent collection featured a dress which involved wrapping a pearl in fabric, twisting and pressing it, then removing the pearl leaving the silhouette of the pearl in the material. What’s the process behind taking your ideas and turning them into the final pieces?
It’s hard to say as sometimes you don’t even know what you’re looking for… I feel that I have an interesting (yet much needed) balance between reality and fantasy. You need the fantasy element to allow you to dream and create. That is how I come to experiment and try things in many different ways until I hit upon that moment when you know that you’ve created something special. My Pure Design training has helped to develop these ideas of application and manipulation.
6. You collaborated with Porters Paints to design an exclusive range of wallpaper. How did this collaboration come about and how to collaborations such as these challenge you as a designer?
It was an exciting project as it allowed me to play a little and use colours that I wouldn’t usually work with. It also gave me a chance to reach people in a different way… Fashion is a lifestyle, so this was an extension of designing for life. I’d love the opportunity to do something like that again.
7. What exciting projects do you have planned for the coming year?
From your research, I guess you can see that I travel a lot and am a Friend of Australia for Tourism Australia, I like many kinds of art exhibitions and some of the questions listed here I am unable to answer just now… so take from that what you will, but I do have some very exciting things in the pipeline! In short, it seems that the older I am getting – the more busy I get also.
Images by Bradley Patrick/SugarLove Pictures and by Wanda Chin for Couturing