Meet Brandon Choi, a Haute Couture Hopeful Sculpting Raw-edged Beauty From Cardboard and Canvas

London fashion week was mostly a launchpad for new-generation menswear, but one delicious moment for women popped up in a video and lookbook by Brandon Choi on the digital schedule. Choi is an outlier amongst the graduate class of 2022, a designer obsessed with Parisian haute couture, who pieced together his inspired collection from toile canvas, pattern-maker’s paper, packaging tape, scraps of fabric, “and cardboard boxes that kept on coming through the door during lockdown.”

A chic kind of magic transpired: delicate raw-edged corsets engineered from paper and canvas; a semi-transparent crin dress with an airily puffed neckline; an asymmetric red skirt bouyed by a cardboard pannier; and another really extraordinary silver-gray twisted skirt whose spiraled folds seemed to be spontaneously caught in movement at the very moment that Choi had draped it. “I’ve studied and admired ’50s couture silhouettes, of course I do,” he says. “But they often look a bit heavy for today. My hope was to kind of bring a weightlessness to it. And always to ask women how they feel in it, so nothing’s restricting.”

Wittily, he called his graduate collection “Wear and Tear,” a double-edged figure of speech which mirrored the fragility of his constructs and hinted at the shared psychological toll of the pandemic. “Obviously, when I was making it, we couldn’t go out to buy things, and I was receiving a lot of packaging which just piled up, and some really beautiful things I bought on eBay which people had personally wrapped with colored tissue paper. So that started me with the color palette and textures, mixing them with some of the classical materials that go into the making of haute couture; my idea was wanting to honor the hidden processes that are usually discarded in the finished piece. For me,” he reflected “it’s about having the guts to say let’s stop and preserve this.”

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