Taking inspiration from everything from Dadaism to mathematics, ARC LUO uses fashion to explore philosophy, history and so much more. The label’s most recent collection, “In-arti-culate”, focuses on the perception of art and how it shifts from person to person. These themes are not hidden; throughout much of the collection, imagery of toilets makes a prominent appearance — a bold move that shows the brand’s willingness to explore topics not often covered in the fashion world. Schön! spoke to label founder Qiuyi Luo about ARC LUO and its many designs.
You’ve said this collection is inspired by Duchamp. Besides the toilet cover-inspired pieces, how did Duchamp and “Fountain” influence this collection?
What I like is that he challenged the concept of traditional art. Because in the fashion industry, we will also define what is popular this year, what is good taste, what is bad taste, what is commercial, what is creative, and which is the most popular colour now. What I want to say is that even the most indefinable carrier of art has been given various labels by people. Many ordinary people wonder why many costumes are not practical and look strange. Just like Duchamp, I also want to see the audience’s reaction and what kind of discussion “wearing the toilet seat” will trigger.
What else can you tell us about this collection? What does it mean to you?
The process of creating this collection was not easy because the first question I asked was “Can art be calculated?” It was not understood by my professors or classmates. However, in my research, someone had raised this question hundreds of years ago, and his research influenced computer program language and generative art. That’s why we have the phone, video games and so on… What if anything can be decomposed into digital codes, “0” and “1”? I don’t give any answer to this question, but I want to help everyone to have a more diverse understanding through in-depth analysis of people’s process of understanding art, and continuous decomposition and refinement of questions.
Can you give us a brief history of yourself as a designer?
I used to study at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology for BA, and then I won a Chinese National Scholarship to go to Central Saint Martins in London to study fashion design, and then for my MA, I came to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I also previously worked at Angel Chen, 3.1 Phillip Lim.
You’ve made a map detailing how people perceive art. First, why did you make the map?
According to the artist Lull’s theory I mentioned earlier, analysing abstract concepts requires its basic elements and grammar. So I refine the definitions of art into every step of how people perceive art. For example, what elements are the artwork made of, what senses people use to feel it, and how people will react to this complete process. Thoroughly study every element and detail.
Second, how do you think this map of art perception influences your work?
I did a series of experiments based on it. For example, regarding the elements of art, I studied colour theory and the golden ratio. I want to break this traditional theory in my design and change the regular proportions of objects. This is the source of inspiration for the second pink dress. The irregular top is actually derived from two cylinders which are similar to water tanks. Regarding the senses, I tried to look at artworks from the perspective of animals. For example, birds can see more colours than people, so I designed a fabric that can only see its colours under ultraviolet light. These experiments are all my research materials, and many different series and expressions can be developed. The works on the runway show are one of the branches, which pay more attention to the expression of structure.
You’ve said your work has two main directions, with one being focusing on a specific group of people. Can you give us an example of this and where you see it in your work?
What I said here is that my overall design style has two main directions. This series is more about the philosophical question “The Definition of Art”. I have another series created in 2018, which is about the similarities between the British and Japanese culture in the Victorian era.
How have you seen your approach to design change since you first started?
I think my method is actually very different from the way of ordinary clothing design. It is more like a method of studying philosophy and history. Clothing is just one of the visual manifestations.
Where do you hope to take ARC LUO in the future?
First of all, I want my designs to be liked. And then I want to use the things that everyone wears every day to convey some unconcerned messages.
Discover more about ARC LUO on Instagram.
all clothing. ARC LUO designed by Qiuyi Luo
inspired by. Marcel Duchamp
fashion. Sb.Sty + Alinak
models. Lexi Hensler, @kyrylo, @aleka, Thelo Newton, Renn Haas, Karlie Nicole, @sonny + @Theo
hair + make up. Dmitry Kukushkin using ECRU New York
accessories design. Maritome
handbag design. Voltaate
special thanks. Flying Solo, FIT Fashion Design MFA, Ammar Kandil, @junky, Henry Wallace, Sarah C. Byrd, Bachmai, Cathleen, Kyle, Siyi Pan, Justin Chi + Walter Wang