This season Refuse Club offered offering a fresh twist on the traditional catwalk, teaming up with Qiongxin Kou and Yiyao Nie , Refuse club showcased its iconic uncompromising aesthetic alongside the vibrant shades and intricate detailing of Qiongxin Kou /Yiyao Nie.
Launching in 2019, the New York based brand was founded by Zhou and Shao to provide an artistic commentary on social issues relating to their identity as both female and Chinese, a means to spark discussion relating to the controversial silencing of the #MeToo Movement in their home country of China. “With our name, each collection we discuss, controversial topics, this season we want to talk about girl rebellion, something which is not really appreciated in our country. We are trying to break down the cute look and bring some punk and grungy attitude to the traditional silhouette, in that way we are trying to introduce something that is on the more deviant side to our culture”.
Following the traditional ethos of the brand, Refuse Clubs AW20 collection pushed the audience the audience to consider the diverse political and cultural references embodied within the garments for yet another season. Inspired by the absence of coming-of age stories told from a female perspective, this season invites onlookers to discover the closet of a teenage girl, sparking a sense of nostalgia for the female audience.
A nod towards the era of 90’s grunge and the riot movement are prominent throughout their latest collection, offering an intimate exploration of a specific aesthetic, threaded throughout each garment. “We always start with picking out silhouettes from a subculture that we want to talk about each season and for this season its pop sleeves and peter pan collars things like that, the sort of things you will see on Courtney Love in the 90’s”.
Merging recognised Western and Eastern narratives within each piece, the collection provides a unique take on contemporary fashion, peter pan collars combine with grungy oversized coats contrasted against Chinese silk brocade, injecting an Eastern narrative through a reimagined Qipao, creating an inimitable final visual. “Each season we will go with a mandarin collar And each season we will combine that with different textiles and fabrics, Our qipao is very loosely fitted which cancels out the sexiness, we want it to be casual wear we specifically make the neck low opposed to the traditional qipao which looks very formal, we use a zipper instead of traditional buttons, that’s our way of deconstructing western and eastern culture”.
Joining Refuse club on the runway, textile designer Qiongxin Kou, and creative technologist Yiyao Nie presented ‘River to Ocean’ a collection filled with metaphors, inspired by the natural elements of water, earth and air, the collection takes us on a journey of life experiencing beautiful and dramatic moments as we flow, embodying the unique connection between our lives and the earth. “There are beautiful moments in the world, so I hope to trigger people to protect the love the world, to protect the world, to protect the environment”.
Drawing upon sophisticated tailoring and signature couture techniques, an array of fresh vibrant shades breathe life into the collection, a fitting colour palette in relation to the notion behind the collection. “I’m really obsessed with fresh colours, sky blue peach pink lemon yellow; colour is everything for me I feel like I have an intimate connection with colours, sometimes I’m even inspired by colours.”
Reflection on the advancements of modern art technology are also fused within the collection with intricate and detailed sculptures made and designed by Yiyao Nie.
Adding a further depth to the collection, complex embellishments add intricacy to pieces throughout the line, handmade flowers are stitched onto the garments adding a subtle message of the fragility and complexity of nature. “I wanted to create something relating to nature and the natural elements, I’m a textile designer to so I make my own fabric. All of the flowers attached are handmade, I want to give delicate details to show people the heart and effort that goes into making things.”
Photographer - Sebastian Davies