These are the words that Singapore-born, London based designer Eugene Lin uses to sum up the feeling behind his eponymous label.
This idea of tough femininity is what drew him to name the Autumn Winter collection Medusa, after the Greek myth. Medusa was a beautiful woman raped by Poseidon and then turned into a monster by Athena, so that the mere sight of her would turn the onlooker into stone.
“The Medusa collection looks at the Greek myth as well, but also as a psychoanalytical symbol- that of female rage,” Lin explains. “I tend to be drawn to strong stories with a slightly dark tone, and find the beauty in it – just like I tend to choose girls who are not typically just pretty for my collections. Pretty in itself is so over-rated, I do not like images to be too perfect and airbrushed. There is a beauty in slight imperfect that is so much more unnerving, yet so human.”
Having launched at London Fashion Week in 2009, Lin decided a change direction was needed for his fourth season to take the label from being commercially high fashion to cutting-edge, recruiting stylists and creatives from Dazed and Confused and AnOther to help him out.
The ensuing collection of draped jersey dresses and stone printed macs and leggings has succeeded in encapsulating Lin’s vision of tough yet sensual femininity. “I wanted to reflect the sensual (not sexual, there is a big difference) strength of femininity for confident women,” he explains. “So far, my clients have all been women in high-ranking positions who do not feel the need to show tits or too overt skin to feel womanly; do not need to be doll-like to feel feminine, and most certainly do not feel weak to wear a dress.”
Lin studied his craft at Central Saint Martins while interning for the likes of Preen and Vivienne Westwood, which he says allowed him to understand the creativity and luxury feel that has become the core of his brand. “The first three collections were incredibly commercial – designer, but very commercial. The target audience was Vogue/Harpers Bazaar and the Summer collections in particular were very focused on daywear,” he explains. However, he decided to take a change of direction with his A/W 2011 collection.
“We dropped all our stockists and added focus on eye-catching showpieces to balance the already commercially successful jersey pieces, shooting an incredible campaign with a completely new team who had worked with Dazed, Another and Volt – exactly the type of publications and audience we are now aiming for,” Lin explains. “It is early days yet but the results have paid off with the press so far – many publications and press are now noticing the label.”
For the new collection, Lin has used digital printing to create the stone effect wool, silk and jersey fabrics used in the designs and it is clear by looking at the collection that it is one engaged in a struggle to maintain the commercial and highly wearable dresses while experimenting with the more avant-garde pieces. He also admits that coming from Singapore, where the focus is very much on daywear as the climate doesn’t really require winter pieces, has made it difficult for him to work with coats and layering. Although he says that he is growing more and more confident with every season.
“There have been many ups and downs, and I have had to battle through many more hells than I can or want to list to be where I am today,” he says. “Like any new designer, I went through the early stages of finding my voice, taking a few hard knocks and listening to the market reaction. But I have definitely found my strength and my own voice now. And it is time to roar.”