For Sean Suen, the Fall/Winter 2024 collection is a journey into the pivotal moments of the early 90s, when China was embracing a global perspective. Suen recalls a time when Western clothes symbolised the pinnacle of style. “At the time, when people looked for something new, they wanted a suit because what they had was a Mao jacket,” he reflects backstage, highlighting a significant shift in fashion sensibilities.
In this collection, Suen redefines the traditional suit, a symbol of this transformative era. He skilfully fuses elements of American utility with exaggerated boxy cuts, creating an intriguing imbalance. The designer’s knack for disrupting the conventional silhouette is evident in oversized pieces that drape elegantly when pulled close to the body, a nod to a mix of cultures and styles.
The theme of novelty runs throughout the collection, allowing the wearer to actively engage with their garments. A jacket that can be casually shrugged off to create asymmetry is a prime example of this interactive design philosophy. Suen’s incorporation of nubby knitwear, reminiscent of his own fond memories, adds a personal and homely touch to the collection. Quirky elements such as high-belted trousers, suspenders and gold accessories further enrich the ensemble, harking back to the styles of a bygone generation.
A particularly memorable piece is the trompe l’oeil longjohns, a playful yet practical choice for the colder seasons. This piece resonates with the burgeoning interest in Wong Kar-Wai’s “Blossoms” series, which reflects the season’s dressier trends and the economic boom of the 1990s in China.
In a broader context, Sean Suen’s Fall/Winter 2024 collection is a tribute to the passage of time and the evolution of fashion in the East. It harkens back to a golden age of exploration, rebellious spirit and limitless possibilities. It was a time when Eastern and Western cultures were rapidly merging, giving rise to diverse aesthetic aspirations and a newfound appreciation for art and fashion. Suen’s homage to this vibrant period is evident in his reinterpretation of classic fashion items such as wool suits, oversized coats and handmade knitwear.
The Sean Suen Fall/Winter 2024 collection is characterised by vibrant colours juxtaposed with more traditional tones of black, grey, brown and green. Through deconstruction and juxtaposition, Suen captures the urgent, rebellious and non-conformist spirit of the time. The designs reflect a deep consideration of the inextricable link between human consciousness and the progression of time.
©Photo: Sean Suen