Steaming, bubbling geysers on the verge of explosion, blue lagoons and wishing wells carry particular significance in Tze Goh’s S/S12 collection after a trip to Iceland to witness the Northern lights. “It is a solar maximum in Iceland just now so there is a really good chance of seeing them,” explains Goh. “To capture it in a photograph was quite tricky but I did manage to take some other shots, such as the geyser.”
The simplistic beauty of the Northern Lights is easily translated into Goh’s minimalist collection, which captures a similar graceful presence and rounded silhouette. The image of a tumbling waterfall can be identified in the dramatic fluidity of a cape or the understated purity of a tailored shift dress reminiscent of an Icelandic glacier. “I do try to separate my holidays from my fashion work, but geography and landscape are great interests of mine and I found the combined natural serenity and intensity of Iceland very invigorating.” Often pulling on contrasting influences of nature and architecture, clean cuts and minimalism are key in Goh’s designs. Traditional tailoring is combined with high-tech, malleable 3D knit to curve the silhouette, whilst retaining a delicacy within the fabrics through intricate craftsmanship and attention to detail.
"I found the combined natural serenity and intensity of Iceland very invigorating"
Tze Goh’s passport has been well-stamped in his time: raised in Singapore, he then studied at Parsons School for Design in New York before completing an MA at Central Saint Martins, whilst also pit stopping in Paris en route. Selected by Vauxhaull Fashion Scout as "One To Watch" in 2011, S/S12 marks his fourth collection since graduating. Goh’s S/S12 line is somewhat quieter than in previous seasons – the jutting shoulders and bright colours of past collections have been reined in, opting for collarless jackets, button-down shirts and belted dresses, using subtle layering and inter-changeable pieces in a predominantly monochromatic colour palette. However, their impact is still as dramatic. Here we talk with Tze Goh on his inspiration behind the collection and his plans for 2012.
What inspired you to visit Iceland?
I really wanted to see the Northern lights as I have read so much about them. They're created when the solar wind hits the Earth's atmosphere and the free electrons and ionised gas interact with the earth's atmosphere creating photons guided by the magnetic field of the earth at 130 km above the earth. But even with all I have read or heard about them to see them in person was a completely different matter, it was breathtaking.
You are based in London at present, but you have lived in a variety of cities - do you think you will continue to stay in London?
I think I will stay in London for the foreseeable future. I like London, and although my family aren't here it's where I have studied and have friends and my business. London has such a huge and diverse style, ranging from the Avant-garde to the commercial. The sophistication of style in my work is definitely reflected in the London style.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome so far in your career as a designer?
The transition from a student to a designer in my own company, that is from academia to industry, as there is lots to learn with regards to business and manufacturing; it's a process.
What country would you like to visit in 2012?
2012 will be Singapore I think – I would like to visit my parents.
Are there any people or a particular person who inspires you within your work?
I would say that the architect Tadao Ando has inspired me through his use of clean lines and honest materials because I believe that fashion can be provided to people as simply as possible, helping in their everyday lives.
If you could collaborate with another designer, who would it be?
There are many designers in various field that I admire, such as Dieter Rams who specialises in the field of product design as exemplified through his work in Braun. I would definitely love to collaborate with another designer in the future, depending on what the project is.
Text by Mhairi Graham