Discovery: Blue Blank

Hidden in the southern hemisphere, Clara Chon spends her days working in an artist’s studio creating glitter paintings and her evenings designing bags for her off-beat label Blue Blank. Chon, who has no formal fashion training, uses her life skills and art background as her tools for building Blue Blank.

This year is Chon’s second time showing at New Zealand Fashion week, which began on this week will continue through Sunday. It is the designer’s first time, however, constructing full outfits—a shift away from her usual leather goods and accessories.

Chon’s Fashion Week presentation reflects her visual arts history: in an empty silo down by Auckland’s dockyard, two men stand as a part of Chon’s Underground fashion installation wearing oversized, hand-painted leather and soft bondage. It is a sight for the sore eyes of those looking for new scenery in the city down under.

DESIGNER: Clara Chon

AGE: 28

BASED IN:  Auckland, New Zealand

LIVING IN THE LAND OF THE LONG WHITE CLOUD: New Zealand is super-beautiful and quirky. Sometimes it can feel isolated working on your craft in an island that’s in middle of nowhere, but that also means you can do whatever you want, which a lot of people around me seem to be doing.  It’s a great place to get started on pursuing your dreams, regardless of age.

FROM ART SCHOOL TO FASHION: I’ve always been unconsciously making wearable objects but never really took it seriously. I made bunch of leather jackets as an en masse install for my Master of Fine Arts submission at University, and I was surprised when people from fashion industry, rather than art, showed interest. It made sense when I realized this was something I’ve wanted to do for so long. Endeavors of any commercial nature are obviously frowned upon in art, but art should be about doing something that you shouldn’t be doing. I think.

IN THE BAG: Like all girls that grew up in the noughties, I wasn’t immune to the phenomenon of “it bags”—status purses embellished in beautiful leather and signature hardware. None of them were really available in New Zealand and I would compensate for it by studying them obsessively and learning to appreciate the details. I’ve gone past worshipping celebrity arm candy obviously, but obsessing over accessories has never really stopped. I sometimes wonder about the curse of the additional paraphernalia that we call handbags, but then I also think it’s a privilege—I am of an opinion that it makes the entire outfit and there’s such an extensive history to it too. I feel so indebted to my lifelong knack for DIY for what I am doing now. I grew up in the suburbs and Saturdays were usually filled with hanging out at malls; perhaps my fascination with DIY came as an allergic reaction to an upbringing that was just totally consumerist.

INSPIRATIONS: I get really inspired by art. I love artists like Bob Irwin and Sophie Calle and still practice as an artist. I approach designing items like making a sculpture and tackling emotionally loaded materials. Art facilitates such a unique outlook on the world around you—as visual phenomena, as signs to be deciphered and regurgitated.

SOUNDTRACK: I am currently stuck in perpetual loop consisting of either IAMAMIWHOAMI or Gesaffelstein.

THE FUTURE: I would love to go to fashion school! I’m going to continue Blue Blank and take it with me wherever I go. I see myself eventually branching out into clothes and footwear.  I would love to be somewhere entirely new, like America or Europe.