Johan Ku | SS21

Taiwanese designer, Johan Ku, has long since been a figurehead in the fashion world thanks to his modernising approach to merging textiles with stapled silhouettes. Prominently known for chunky, experimental knitwear, the designer usually excels when showcasing Autumn/Winter collections, however, his recent London Fashion Week, Spring/Summer 2021 collection showed the brands flexibility and futuristic vision.

Entitled: ‘The Painters’, Johan traded those synonymous chunky knits for light, airy silk ensembles, emblazed with a vast sea of colours. With key elements throughout coming from his background in graphic design, the collection was very much an homage to those ‘Artists’ and to creatives who have struggled amidst a year like no other. In many ways this collection bought a drop of colour and hope to an industry where independent designers have no idea what the future brings. 

As was the norm this season with fashion week going virtual, Johan showcased online, in the form of a video. It was a nice touch, one scene where two models danced and intertwined with each other gave the collection a more personal feel. Although, at points it was unnecessarily dark and there felt too much of a focus on setting a mood compared to focusing on the clothes’ unique detailing. But for many, showcasing in this manner is unknown territory, it’s a learning curve and sadly, we don’t know when those catwalks will return. 

It was in the detailing that this collection stood out. The graphic elements gave the image of silkscreen prints, an array of beautiful colours as well as a sense of pop art influence. It was a side of the designer I hadn’t seen before. Pop Art elements came across in the print, with paints such as ‘Gouache’ and ‘Acrylic’ appearing as subtle slogans across the majority of outfits, further reinforcing the inspiration behind the collection. The essence of abstract art also ran true in many of the outfits. There felt a real sense of creative freedom of Johan, here. Two jackets, including a bright pink one, were emblazed with a wash of paint splashes, the outcome wouldn’t have looked out of place in a 90’s warehouse rave. 

‘The Artists’ shows the breadth of Johan’s creative vigour. The sense of freedom that came across in the graphic elements gave hope to a brighter future. Perhaps more than ever we needed colour this season. Ironic in some ways, given that we’re about to enter further dark, unknown territory in the upcoming months, that we see such dynamic collections as this as a pretext. Maybe it’s that sense of hope; colour gives us hope, fashion gives us joy. Creativity from such special individuals gives us all of that, and more. If only our government realised that too…

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Words: Jake Wright