LONDON — From social bubbles to fashion bubbles, Norwegian fashion designer and artist Fredrik Tjærandsen, who is known for his balloon-like bubble dresses for his Central Saint Martins BA graduate collection in 2019, made his Asian debut Tuesday with the “ArtisTree Selects: Light In/Out Film and Exhibition” in Hong Kong’s Taikoo Place, as a part of the Swire Properties Arts Month 2021 program.
Featuring a new 4-meter high bubble-like installation made with sustainably and responsibly sourced natural rubber latex from Sri Lanka — the same material Tjærandsen used for his signature bubble dresses — and a dance film, the exhibition also showcased a collection of images documenting the bubble dresses in different forms and colors by British photographer Carlos Jimenez, which was created for the Fashion in Motion live fashion event series at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2020.
“The sculpture is static, but I wanted to play with lines to kind of create some sort of illusion of entering into something that is moving, and that is constructed in steel, which is very new for me,” Tjærandsen told WWD over a Zoom call.
The structure is draped in latex, a material he has been fascinated with for its ability to “capture life and reflect life,” and make the wearer “look like liquid.” The idea behind using latex here as a core material was to make the viewer feel as if they are confronting life through their own individual filter.
“I just love working with latex, it is such an amazing material that can be manipulated in so many ways. What I really like about the material is how it drapes beautifully on the skin. It really changes how you’re being touched,” he added.
Calling the bubble “a beautiful metaphor, in which every part of us, our homes, our selves, were encased,” Pauline Foessel, curator of the exhibition, said she wanted to bring the public something striking and something they could feel and experience, especially after waves of lockdowns in the city.
Foessel added a creative from Hong Kong was sent to London and was trained under Tjærandsen to learn how to inflate and maneuver the fragile garments. Upon his return and following quarantine, the creative supported the dance artists and production teams in Hong Kong in recreating the bubble dresses.
“We thought it would be powerful to bring his work and present it in a city like Hong Kong — renowned for its architecture, people and cultural space. Fredrik’s performative work retains strong poetic and fluid dynamics and we wanted to showcase this to the general public and to ultimately take away a feeling of liberation and openness,” she said.
Priscilla Li, general manager of Taikoo Place, said Tjærandsen’s exhibition alongside other upcoming events “demonstrate people’s resilience during challenging times” and “add a new dimension to people’s working lives” in Hong Kong.
Having worked at places like JW Anderson, Craig Green, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton, Tjærandsen said he is more interested in being a conceptual designer, and explore the relationship between mind and dress and “reflecting how the body is conditioned by the dress physically and psychologically,” as he simply wants to “keep on working on really creative projects where I have freedom.”
“I really wanted fashion to start a contact without making things, without having the physical product,” he said.
In the past few years he has received many requests from celebrities to collaborate, but he chose to stay away from all that. Tjærandsen explained that he wants his work to be taken seriously in the art world, and dressing pop stars “doesn’t really feel right” for him.
He also wasn’t flattered when his works became memes during the pandemic when people were talking about social bubbles, because his voluminous design naturally keeps people away from each other.
“I’m really happy with how people resonated with it [his graduate collection] and everyone experiencing or understanding the outfits even though people wouldn’t be wearing it.…But when things become a meme, I don’t really resonate with it. Maybe I am just pretty boring. But I’m quite serious about what I want to say in my works. So, when it gets taken out of context like that, I mean, that’s OK. That’s the internet, but I also don’t know.”