More about the garment and the designer
When creating a garment for the Competition, Rodney Leong chooses not to show his work to anyone else before it is completed because, he says, too many opinions can confuse and dilute an idea. He was conscious that the concept for The Love of Icarus sounded too simple, despite all the detailing in the art work, and that people seeing it in daylight wouldn’t consider how effective it would look under stage lights.
Rodney usually works on the kitchen table at home and says there are major advantages in being home-based. “I end up living amongst it for maybe six months, which is kind of cool as well because that goes with the organic process of making a garment. It may not be working, so you put it down and do the washing or whatever then come back to it, and that little break may spur you on or on help solve a problem”. However with The Love of Icarus he was able to use a room, after hours and during weekends, at his workplace. He would store his materials under his desk and haul everything out once his colleagues had gone home.
When developing an art work, Rodney first considers ideas from the music, books, movies, internet, magazines and conversations around him. He brainstorms ideas before selecting the best one to research, at which point he also looks at materials and cost. Rodney notes all his ideas in a visual diary which, at the conclusion of a project, he recycles for his next piece of art by pasting over the pages with new images and ideas. After confirming that he would base his work on the story of Icarus, Rodney did more research and lots of drawings, including thumbnail sketches at each stage of the development.
He decided to develop his concept of a figure in the moon by creating a round silhouette, with a model in the middle and light shining through it. Rodney investigated materials that would allow him to achieve this look and liked clear plastic, because it would let him feature the lighting as an important part of the work. The final design depended on what sort of plastic would be used, and finding something that would suit the concept was difficult. The solution turned up in a manufacturer’s catalogue. Rodney was looking at the range of embellishments and trimmings available for the clothing industry and found plastic collar stays (also called stiffeners). These are put into the ends of men’s shirt collars to keep the edges straight and are made of a lightweight plastic which can be washed, ironed and sewed. Rodney decided that the stays could be made into an interesting shape, and that if he used the transparent ones it could add another dimension to the light shining on his creation. Rodney decided that the best idea was to keep his pattern as simple as possible because, in using lots of the shapes, he didn’t want the art work to look too “busy”.
“It’s the freedom to try new things with fabric and design and the ability to ignore the constraints of a commercial fashion career that I am drawn to. There are no expectations of what you should create when entering WOW, only the aim of personal growth and the abilities of your own imagination.”