Today iconic retailer Joyce boutique opens the doors to The Golden Needle, a unique and pioneering fashion exhibition with a twist.
Created to commemorate the store’s new re-design, it’s best described as an immersive and interactive journey that uncovers a designer’s creative process in an intimate setting complete with live actors.
To bring the story to life, Joyce enlisted the talents of Emmy-award winning creative director and production designer Joseph Bennett, who also staged the highly acclaimed Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition. Joining him is fashion historian and consultant Olivier Châtenet and British theatre group Les Enfants Terribles, all of whom have collaborated together for the first time.
Housed in an abandoned retail space next to the Joyce boutique, visitors enter the exhibition through a dingy stairwell located off a side street. Once inside, they are led into an intimate workshop complete with rolls of fabric, a dressing room and illustrations and sketches covering the walls, before being “greeted” by a tailor for a fitting.
And so begins a journey into the subconscious mind of a fictional character (the “tailor”) as the audience are lead through a series of interactive rooms, accessed by climbing through wardrobes and even a window. The sets are mind blowing and include a maze dotted with “live” and inanimate mannequins, a room covered in moss or silk cocoons and a romantic all-black moonscape complete with stark white trees dotted with ribbons (the audience can tie the ribbons alongside the actors). My favourite is the rustic shack in the woods were the tailor’s obsessive nature is both haunting and intriguing.
The sets come to life thanks to the incredible fashion, which consists of 35 looks and over 100 pieces selected by Chatenet from Joyce’s current stable of brands. Interestingly the fashion blends in seamlessly with its muted palette and clever styling. Current season must haves such as a Marni tote is worn as a skirt, while Balenciaga’s now iconic jewelled heels and striped bags are fashioned onto mannequins heads. Chatenet has also expertly mixed vintage pieces such as a 1970s Nina Ricci dress and printed Hermes scarves with more edgy looks by Rick Owens and Junya Watanabe.
At the same time every look has been chosen with the idea of craftsmanship in mind so the details stand out be it a trail of feathers on an Alessandra Rich dress or the jet black beading on a Dries Van Noten skirt. Every piece is also shoppable in keeping with the see now, buy now model fashion is currently obsessed with.
Of course the actors, shipped in from England, also play a starring role throughout the journey, although it is left up the visitors to decide how much they want to interact with them (if at all). It makes the whole experience that much more playful and personal.
The exhibition culminates in centre of the boutique next door where an artwork consisting of a fibre optic dress by Korean artist Kim Tae Gon takes pride of place as a soundtrack of a thumping heart and founder Joyce Ma’s voice play in the background. It’s a poignant reminder of the true essence and heart of fashion which is to conjure dreams, emotion and above all, beauty.
The Golden Needle is on from October 14 (Friday) to October 16 (Sunday) at Joyce New World Tower, Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong. Entrance is free but advanced booking is recommended. www.joyce.com