Alchemy is the ancient art of transmuting materials into their most perfect form, be it a metal, a plant, or a human soul. It is with this philosophy in mind that up-and-coming Japan-based, Chinese designer Leonard Wong creates his latest collection and accompanying fashion video, both named Alchemy. In stark monochrome, the Alchemy video features ferrofluid-like orbs that morph and transform into human figures, namely performance artist Sylvia Lajbig and dancer duo AyaBambi. Glitchy camera movements, an eerie soundtrack, and visceral body involvement make this an unforgettably creepy and absorbing video.
Leonard Wong takes tradition and destroys it to create minimalistic impactful women’s clothing. By combining futuristic design with the high collar aesthetic of traditional Chinese and Japanese garb, he creates strong looks for strong women.
“I first absorb the traditional styles but always create something new that holds the intricate balance between the two,” he writes on his website. “I hold a high regard for tradition, for without it our world would not have grown into what it is now. After absorbing the classical traditions, the future appeared in my mind. A human being’s urge for adventure cannot be suppressed, thus I chose to break away from tradition. From the ruins, a sapling can at last grow.”
As well as the ready-to-wear "Collection" line, he also has an "Experimental" line that includes collections with names like “Cell Segregation” and “Trans Cending Spacetime.” The Experimental line allows him to explore his philosophical preoccupations through clothes. Eventually, he wants them to tell a complex story that will communicate to future generations the state of fashion today.
For this video, he worked with Sylvia Lajbig and Inside Flesh, a project by Polish collective SUKA OFF that explores “human carnality in all its forms.” They dabble in performance art, video, and non-traditional hardcore pornography. In Alchemy, Lajbig is a naked, not-quite human figure that shaves her head in a perfectly white room, occasionally making eye contact with the viewer as though daring us to stop her. Once her head is bare, she arranges the hair neatly into a box and suddenly is clothed in a long white jacket with strict lines. She remains barefoot, but her eyes are now tightly closed.
This white act transforms into a black space inhabited by Japanese duo AyaBambi who, dressed in Wong’s angular designs and transcendent head-pieces, perform their characteristic sharp-as-knives technique and otherworldly symmetrical swipes and spins. The frames switch from black and white to white and black, swapping the outfits of Aya Sato and her partner Bambi Sato. The two are at times locked in an intimate and powerful duet, and then stalking towards the viewer as if through an inescapable black tunnel. They end by smearing black paint over their arms and faces, which transforms them back into the mutating throbbing orbs. All of this together results in a truly surreal and sophisticated piece of fashion art.