Ximon Lee is this year’s winner of the prestigious H&M Design Award which granted him a unique runway show during Stockholm Fashion Week where he displayed his AW 2015 collection. For Lee, a recent graduate of Parsons New School for Design in New York, this must be a dream come true. The link between this recently announced collaboration with the Swedish brand and Lee’s academic background is particularly interesting, as the collection for H&M partly draws upon his graduation collection at Parsons: they shares the same ambitious desire to make a statement through design. However, the references it displays are actually much broader and rich. A Polish documentary from 2005, “The Children of Leningradsky”, is translated into garments through a process of recollection and reconstruction from the designer’s own childhood. The memory of his earlier life – the grey architecture typical of the Soviet cities and colorless winters pictured in the documentary – form both a romance and a fascination, while oversized pieces and complex layers portrayed in the movie, left clear traces on his design aesthetics.
Nevertheless, it would be reductive to define Lee’s collection only in terms of oversized shapes, as it is far more experimental – especially considering the commercially demanding client. Lee’s work consciously abolishes the dynamics of H&M’s widespread and often flattening fashion machine, by introducing peaces that are unlikely and challenging, full of refreshing architectural references and over-shaped, boxy silhouettes with sweet messages softening some pieces. Lee himself says the whole collection is very personal and lays him close to heart, and such an emotional involvement stands out and makes his work authentic. Seen within a fashion week that has been much about showing clothes and less about telling stories and ideas, it is hopeful to see there is still hope for an alternative view of fashion.