A native from Hong Kong and recent M.F.A. graduate of the Milanese-based Domus Academy, Pauline Yuen Pui Ling produced not one, but two collections for her Spring/Summer 2016 season. Her first, a Master’s project, consisted of a pair of feminine dresses which Yuen reinterpreted Butoh, an experimental Japanese dance from the late ‘50s, into a concept that she then translated into her designs. Even at the peak of its popularity, Butoh was inherently difficult to define and resisted “fixity.” The vernal designer chose to understand the dance as an appreciation for a singular organic moment in the present that disregarded the past and the future. Similarly, her halterneck dress was neither particularly reminiscent of any historical period nor did it tell a story of what is forthcoming. Constructed with puckers and scraps of fabric, it felt light, natural, arboreal and alive, existing in the immediate present time.
“Kinesphere,” her second work, was for Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, the organization responsible for Milan Fashion Week. Yuen looked to contemporary dance professional Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and dance theorist Rudolf Laban for inspiration. In fact, it was Laban himself who coined the kinesphere as, “the sphere around the body whose periphery can be reached by easily extended limbs without stepping away from that place which is the point of support when standing on one foot.” Pairing together draped silk and leather harnesses as a representation of human motion and the kinesphere, Yuen recreates the art of dance through her own lens of fashion design. The last outfi that she sent down the runway was the most direct and explicit: the severity of the bodice and the rippling billows of the skirt proved Yuen’s immersion within the context of dance.