I met Edmund Ooi in 2008 outside a club in Antwerp, Belgium. I was hanging out with my friends, when all of a sudden this skinny stylish asian boy wearing all black latex (if I remember well) came over and we started chatting. I found out that we were both interning at the time for 2 students of the Academy and it was something that kind of glued us together. He is now presenting his S/S 2015 collection and it's all about the classic suit and the iconic white shirt deconstructed and re-constructed. And it's perfectly Edmund.
Hi Edmund, how are you today? It's been a while since we talked! Tell me a bit about yourself…
I am very well, very busy. Just finished up the Paris showroom. I am actually answering this interview on the train back to Belgium. Next stop, we will showcase the collection in a showroom in Copenhagen in August. I am based in Brussels for the moment and trying to make a mark in fashion.
How does your upbringing influence your designs?
Being born and raised in Malaysia till the age of 18 gave me a big push to really make it someday in fashion. I was raised in Penang, a small island in the north of Malaysia. Basically, fashion doesn’t exist there, what everybody was wearing was really something that had been filtered and filtered and filtered. I was always reading old magazines and admiring all the beautiful things in there. I guess that gave me the motivation to do fashion so I could someday be living in the world where only beautiful things exist.
Step by step, country to country, continent to continent, although I'm only 27 it has been a pretty long journey but the best part throughout this is that I’ve learnt so much and seen so much! Many times I was excited with things that people don't find exciting because they're so used to them, but for me there is so much to explore!
When did fashion become a part of your life?
It’s been a part of my life since I was a child, given my upbringing in a family of tailors.I used to play around in my mom’s atelier everyday after school. Stitching teddy bears and pajamas, experimenting with different ways of dressing, some were a success but they mostly failed. I clearly remember the feeling of playing dress up with my mom's clothes and I tried to apply that into my collection, the feeling of excitement when you try on a different identity!
Of course I am not asking everyone to dress like a sex slave, but to apply a fun and open attitude while dressing up. It makes life interesting!
Tell me about your new collection. What was your inspiration? What's your design process?
This season was really a combination of things I love and I'm good at. The idea behind the brand is really about making garments which were really thought through and researched. Every little bit counts. The mood of this collection is actually another take on Barbarella, combining science-fiction, fun and rebellious attitude, but this is really just to create the mood and the image of the collection. One has to see the pieces in person, a lot of research has been put into every different aspect of making the pieces, from patterning to finishing. laminating cotton, stamping on wool, lurex jacquard, rubber moulding, all seams were laser cut and taped, double bonding on parts to create a geometric shape, but it's still soft so it doesn’t constrain the person wearing it. I’ve always had this mentality to put everything in a collection as if it was my last one and sometimes it becomes too much and makes the production process quite complicated!
Are you thinking about doing women's wear at all?
YES! I love women’s wear, but first I need to get my mens line on track, and women's wear will definitely come later.
What would be your second choice career?
There’s only one goal in my life, which is Fashion. No other options.
Are you already thinking about your next collection? If so, what can we except?
The research process has already started but it’s a secret! Expect Edmund Ooi!
Do you have any photographers or models you would love to work with?
This will be a very very long list.To name a few: Willy Vanderperre, Inez & Vinoodh, Mert & Marcus, Nick Knight, Frederick Heyman.
Do you have any advice for new designers who are trying to get out there?
Only do it if you really have passion in fashion, or else it is a waste of time. There are so many bumps to overcome, you really need the passion to keep you going, even for me, from time to time it’s so tough that I almost break down.