With Graduate Fashion Week just around the corner Capulet’s Couture is intent on showcasing some of the finest final collections coming out of Universities across the country this year. We want to give graduate designers their first piece of published publicity in an effort to showcase British talent at its best. Our consistent feature “So many designers, so little time” is kick starting with a menswear designer John Yau. He talks to Capulet’s Couture on how his final collection ‘Gothic Dandy’ is ever so slightly egotistical and how lace came to be a part of his subtle message regarding modern day androgyny.

CC: What was the inspiration behind your graduate collection? The title of “Gothic Dandy” seems like one big oxymoron to us. Can you explain how and why you came up with the concept?

JY: I think I picked that title because that’s what’s best describing me as a person and my design handwriting. As they say when you do a final collection its like marking the end of one journey and a start of the next, so i wanted to do something really personal. I’m well know in my class for being this preppy boy who has a bit of emotional edge, and after picking that title my tutor suggested that i should be my own muse. So really the whole collection is kind of self-indulgent and in a way egotistic because it was predominantly all about my taste in clothing. 
In terms of translating it into the collection I didn’t want it to be so obviously gothic. There are so many collections out there whereby it’s referred to as gotchic, that everything is black. To me it is all about the details, because menswear is so restricted, you can’t go crazy with it.. other wise it will end up looking a bit too much. If you look at the colour pallet of the collection, you will see that everything else apart from the shirts are in this dark colour spectrum, like the gun powder grey organza bib and the burgundy with black spray paint, and the two types of greys. They are details that project a certain darkness but doesn’t dominate. The other gothic element to the collection is more historical, of the Victorian period, hence the shirts have these very stiff collars which are made out of 3 layers of cotton with fusing and then starched, to give that kind of up right and proper feeling you see in old Victorian photographs.

CC: What did you want to achieve through your final collection? Was there something more personal in executing this collection?

JY: Well like i said it was about me as a person and the design handwriting, but i guess it’s also about the type of guys I go for, because my initial project brief was about androgyny.
Guys in this generation, gay or straight seem to have this gender blended element to them, in terms of the way the look naturally, the way they dress, the longish hair they have etc. So to translate that into the collection I have tried to use what is traditionally seen as women’s wear fabrics like lace, tulle and organza infused into menswear to project that kind of gender blended image.  The lace is very dominant in this because of its reputation of being feminine, but also because of its historical and luxury reference.  But of course it being menswear it is all used as small details and balanced by tailoring to stop it from going too feminine. 


CC: We adore the way in which you have brought together the ideas of traditional dandies and the concept of modern living. How did you feel about bringing together two, ultimately, different ideas? Were you ever worried it wouldn’t quite come together?

JY: I was worried about the collection being too costume like, which can be easily done considering it is hard to take historical reference in menswear without being too literal. Again it is all in the details, like the waist jacket for example. It is obvious that it takes reference from waist coats, often worn in the Victorian era, but it is the way it is worn that makes it modern. Instead of the waist coat being worn inside, the jacket (which is actually one garment) is cut to make it look like there is a waist coat worn on the outside, on top of the jacket. Also those small pockets on the jacket take into consideration modern living. The jacket itself is quite short, so putting pockets in on the normal places would be a bit akward. So instead of cutting a pocket out to accommodate for the hands, the pocket is cut right on the chest to accommodate for things like iPods and iPhones. It is just big enough for that and because of where it is positioned, when you put your head phones in, you don’t get a long trail of wire all over you. 
Although the long wool coat is heavily filled with Victorian frock coat elements it also takes on modern references.  The centre front of the coat is cut back so it doesn’t over lap or even touch, it is supposed to mimic how a cardigan would fall when you wear it un buttoned.

CC: What would you say your signature piece is in this collection?

JY: I think the signature piece would be the shirts, because it is the one thing that has a consistent story to it. In the collection the first shirt has a tulle panel cut out around the chest and collar-bone, (again taking into consideration femininity) and then this panel changes shape and is developed into lace (the lace is constructed out of tulle with pattern embroidered on top) and eventually the lace is developed into a digital print, so it’s all coherent. 

CC: How did you go about selecting the backdrops and locations to your shoot? How did these tie in with your ideas surrounding the collection?

JY: My main inspiration for the shoot was actually the wall from the film ‘The King’s Speech’. I remember watching the film in the cinema and seeing this beautiful distressed wall and I really wanted it in my own house. So for the shoot i wanted to have that kind of reference but at the same time not be too literal. I mean, I could easily have done the shoot in an old Victorian house or even at the set of that film but it would be a bit predictable I guess. And around Brighton there are a few gem locations which I have always liked. The antique shop and the small florist where we finally did the shoot gave that kind of old/ historical reference I was after but in a  way more subtle way.

CC:  How do you feel overall about your collection? Are you happy with the outcome?

JY:  It has been a journey of finding yourself and testing how much you actually got out of the course, and like they say, you are never ready to do a collection until you have actually done one. You have so many ideas you want to realise by the end of it there was so much to do! I’m so glad that during the last few weeks my course allocates us with first year assistants to help/ learn off us, because i  really would not have done as good a job without them. I think over all I am happy with the collection, but there are areas where I wish I pushed further experimenting with more fabric manipulation. Maybe even extend into making accessories, but then again with a 6 outfit collection how much can you push before it loses that kind of feel and coherence a collection is supposed to have?

To contact John Yau please email: