Robert Wun: From Dalston to Place Vendôme

A week ago, Robert Ng’s studio in East London’s Dalston district was buzzing with activity as the designer prepared to stage his first show during Paris’ Haute Couture Week. Eight years after he launched his eponymous label, Wun was invited to close out the week as a guest at his Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. But when dramatic black quilting his down his cape and ruffled paneled gold lamé on his dress are the finishing touches, Wun still can’t believe it’s happening. I did.

Bruno Pavlovsky, fashion president of Chanel After winning last year’s ANDAM Prix Special, Wun agreed to sponsor Wun’s application while mentoring designers. “That’s when reality started to become reality,” says Wun. Other members may not want it. [The Fédération] He had more confidence in me than in me.

After years of imposter syndrome and working on the fringes of mainstream fashion, the Hong Kong-born designer took time to find his groove.

“I started building the brand by hand in my bedroom in Brixton,” recalls Wun. “There was no business strategy. It took me years to figure out how I fit in and where I wanted to go.”

Ng was not selected for the alumni press show of the London College of Fashion, where he studied, nor was he part of Nugen or Fashion East’s Young Designers Program in London. “I was never part of that gang,” he says.

The pressures of the pandemic and the death of his grandmother forced Eun to make a do-or-die decision, resulting in a collection called “Armour,” released in April 2021 as a lookbook of simple iPhone lenses. Along with a clear nod to the work of Wun’s designer hero Alexander McQueen, there’s a palpable sense of sadness in this line’s knife-sharp pleats, neoprene-glued lace-ups in his corsets and straps. bottom.

A look from the Robert Ng Spring/Summer 2023 collection.

The collection quickly became a hit on Instagram, and Wun moved his business away from wholesale, creating custom pieces for individual customers ranging from £15,000 to £200,000 each. His pieces have since been worn by Solange, Celine Dion, Priyanka Chopra and Cardi B, and have helped build a healthy client list, primarily in the United States and the Middle East.

“These customers have already taken measurements from other brands and can work with their stylists and assistants to get the right fit. I’m here. [Park] They are excited to get their hands on something more unusual from the new couturier. (Korea-born, London-based Sohee Park’s Miss Sohee label made its own, albeit unscheduled, Paris debut earlier this week.)

Ng is vocal about not wanting her Chinese heritage to change the way her work is evaluated. “They want us to tick a box as a group,” he says. I don’t ask about being Scottish all the time.My heritage is personal and mine.”

A look from the Robert Ng Spring/Summer 2023 collection.

Nonetheless, his own vulnerability is the central theme of the collection he will exhibit tonight at the Hôtel d’Evreux on Place Vendôme. His dress gets what looks like cigarette burns and red wine stains. Shoes with perspex wedges hang back with broken heels. There are no couture brides. Instead, a hooded black quilted cape dotted with feathers rounds out the show.

“Fear itself is inspiration,” Ng says. “It’s like a timestamp for understanding and remembering the process of doing your first show and overcoming your anxiety.”

Wun knows the limits of his label. “It’s not going to be a £200 million business and you won’t see a lot of people on the street wearing Robert Ng. I wouldn’t design it that way,” he says. “What we do here is really personal. I was scared.”

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