MASTER OF MESS is a conversation and interdisciplinary collaboration between avant garde designer Ximon Lee and artist Pan Daijing with a series of performance and installation pieces based on Ximon's AW18 story and Pan Daijing's musical work which was presented in both Paris and Shanghai.

Parsons graduate Ximon Lee has shown his collections in London and New York, and has experienced a high-level of recognition after just four seasons. He became the first menswear designer to win the H&M Design Award and holds the title of semifinalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize in 2015. While citing names like Kanye West amongst fans, he was also featured on 2016’s Forbes 30 under 30 list. Raised in Hong Kong and now based in Berlin, XIMONLEE is stocked in some of fashion's most renowned stores, including London’s Machine-A.

Whitelies sat down with the young avant garde designer to talk about the project MASTER OF MESS, his latest collection, and the future of avant garde fashion.


So, MASTER OF MESS, how did this project come together?
MASTER OF MESS is originated from an artistic dialogue between Pan Daijing and myself. We were not interested in just commissioning Pan to make the show soundtrack, instead I wanted Pan to be part of the project from the beginning to end.

Can you explain the title of this collaboration?
It was a spontaneous title that came to us during the collaboration, but I don't think it serves to define the project as a whole, just a moment in the process.

Are you planning to do more artistic collaborations in the future?
I am always open to working with people from other artistic backgrounds, but our work has to enhance theirs and vice versa.


Focusing more on your latest collection, what was the initial inspiration for Autumn Winter 2018?
During the very initial research phase of this season I came across a picture of a sculpture draped and bound in cloth. The image depicts a smooth and idealised body that has been laced in pieces of fabric, and that starting point evolved into the main season fabrics developed. The fabric is composed of a combination of natural yarns and synthetic shrinking yarns which stretch and pull in different directions to create the contorted shapes in the collection.

Your collections directly address darker, more complex aspects of human nature with the themes „Shame“, „Xenophilia“ and „Melancholic Violence“ – where does this interest in more cerebral motifs come from?
I believe darkness is something that should be explored; people often avoid talking or dealing with negative thoughts and emotions even when it comes to design. There is a lot of beauty to be found in darkness, but everyone has a different perception what is beautiful and I like that my work triggers such a diverse range of responses.


How do you usually approach a new collection? does the theme come first or do you get inspired by certain materials or garments?
It changes from season to season. A self directed prompt can lead the research or sometimes I will find a beautiful material and that will lead the process as I try to find the best way to show off this fabric.

Do you see yourself as a designer or rather as an artist?
I have never defined this title myself. I prefer to just create and let people place it where they want in the world.

You have a reputation as the millennial master of the avant garde. why is the avant garde so important, especially in current times?
Achieving new way of creating materials helps to communicate my ideas with people better and as technology in the fabrics industry is developing so fast it’s exciting to work with these new techniques. The expectations of audiences are much higher these days, so people are on the lookout for something new to trigger their curiosity.


In your opinion, who are the most visionary thinkers?
As far as avant garde designers are concerned Margiela has motivated me in terms of pushing new materials and silhouettes and also the focus on social issues is something I try to continue doing. Margiela’s work is also so well crafted whilst still sustaining a commercially viable business and to be able to balance all of this is something to aspire to.

Where do you see the future of avant garde fashion, also in regards to sustainability?
As the global society is witnessing their impact on the environment, it is important to make sure we, as a company, are aware of how we can improve in terms of sustainability. It’s not necessarily about being avant garde, it is something that all labels should simply be aware of and work towards finding as many solutions as possible.


Clothing Ximon Lee  Installation Art Pan Daijing
Photography Luis Alberto Rodriguez
Interview Isabella Rhein