Pronounce, a high-end fashion label established and designed by Yushan Li and Jun Zhou during 2016 just featured their new collection, Embryo for London’s Fashion Week. Launching their hand-crafted designs through a carefully curated film campaign, Li and Zhou represent both the East and West by combining culture, tradition and modernity.
Embryo, a collection made with the hopes of defying gender stereotypes, promotes a “gender sharing” concept between ‘women’ and ‘men’. Somewhat an extension of their SS18 collection which had focussed more exclusively on pushing the boundaries between male-specific stereotypes, this more recent collection stands out due to its unique sense of artistry and creative direction.
Filmed in a sort-of VHS style, Pronounce begins through a short scene of orange, blue and purple flowers. Accompanied by a soundtrack featuring classical Chinese instrumentals, the video is a mixture of stills and picture in motion. The emphasis on the fashion seems to be equal or less when looking at the collection’s overall prominence. Male models in make-up, a shaved head and dramatic lip liner appears to be Embryo’s main statement, almost distracting you from the fashion itself. Starring you in the eyes, a smoky-eyed male, cropped before you can realise the model’s gender, allowing you to appreciate a more non-stereotypical type of beauty.
Body-painter MARU is able to mimic designs found on the pieces of traditional Chinese pottery using black paint on Embryo’s FW21 models in a way that expresses Eastern culture using an innovative and modern twist. The models have been able to complete the broken designs of traditional pottery that we hear shatter throughout the film. It can be questioned as to whether the two designers were trying to convey a particular message, one that represents tradition, through rejuvenation of custom using fashion that is able to rebuild society in an equal and more just way.
Yushan Li and Jun Zhou also explore anonymity through abstract fashion that can be described as vase-like. Covering the entirety of the model, the piece is home to the flowers seen at the start of the film and although this moment could start to tie things together, it seems to do the exact opposite. During this moment it seems that all direction is lost.
Although the film campaign has many meaningful and beautiful layers, the storyboard is confused and makes it difficult for viewers to understand the overall intended impact of the collection. Embryo’s audience are challenged by taking in an overwhelming amount of creativity in just over two minutes through use of short, jumpy scenes. It could be said that by adding more time and emphasis on the actual fashion pieces, the designs would earn a longer-lasting impression on its viewers.
Regardless of this, both Yushan Li and Jun Zhou are commendable for their efforts in using fashion as a force for good. These unprecedented times have caused many industries to adapt rapidly to a new way of working and rather than using a predictable fashion runway, Pronounce innovated, giving us something new and intriguing.
We look forward towards the future that Pronounce has to offer as a beacon of gender parity, sharing and fluidity.