Posing like John and Jane Wang on their annual National Holiday, models and passers-by alike — art imitating life, if you will — melt into that only-in-China tourist blockbuster feel. TǔKù [too-koo]: Imitatio et aemulatio at its fashionably finest. As demonstrated by Beijing brand MARRKNULL.
The New York Fashion Week V-Files platform in September 2018 featured Beijing-born MARRKNULL, a brand whose SS19 collection found itself heavily inspired by China’s original TǔKù culture.
MARRKNULL is good at using innovative deconstruction to integrate multiculturalism into clothing, paying attention to the deconstructive changes in clothing and using special tailoring and silhouettes to express the unique perspectives of the Middle Kingdom’s younger generation on social culture. The youth power(ed) brand breaks through the boundaries of tradition and gender and show off China’s new youth culture through the expression of conflicting feelings in clothing. But is it really too cool for school?
土 [tǔ]酷 [kù]
First things first: A little NCIKU knowledge for those in need:
- 土 [tǔ]: 1. soil; 2. local (emphasis on the phonetics, “TOO”);
- 酷 [kù]: 1. cruel; 2. extremely; or just plain “cool”.
The “Tu Cool” trend represents a subcultural form of dressing and, more importantly, photography in China. The trend showcases a more of a sense of humor and sincerity in the face of fashion. Enter MARRKNULL SS19.
The brand’s seasonal lookbook currently boasts some heavy original “Tu Cool” inspo, showing off a picturesque series of (in)famous scenic views. The photographic case in point is more direct and literal with models set against the backdrop of Beijing’s touristic finest hotspots such as Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, Shichahai, and so the list rambles on, imitating the look of tourists taking pictures or striking park wedding photography poses in high fashion gear — passers-by welcomed into the frame. Even in fashion, the flawed truth has become the new fab cool.
Fashion’s Phantastic Ego
Art operates on three levels: Spirit, activity and result. The overall “Tu Cool” concept and spirit is a thought-provoked and -provoking one, presenting itself in the form of leisure activities. The people, aka the stars of the final result, are more than mere teasers in the frame; they are the embodiment of a increasingly large-scale subculture in Chinese art.
Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that people need to pass and morph through three stages in life, i.e. those of camels, lions and babies. As camels, they must bear the burden of humiliation, live for others before slowly transitioning into the lion(ess). The roving eye of this predator knows how to pursue what it wants and how to be brave enough to be its own animal — instincts welcomed into the game. When all is said and done and every vintage pose has been struck, we all circle back — in true Benjamin Button style — to the cradle. Or pre-school.
Perhaps in that fashion, the “Tu Cool” spirit too returns to the truth — with the imitation of life culminating in the epitome of fashion. And fashion stops feeling itself as this phantastic ego.
Featured image: MARRKNULL Studio SS19
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Images come courtesy of MARRKNULL
Copyright@Temper Magazine, 2018. All rights reserved
After tackling Beijing for some six years where she worked for China International Publishing Group, she spent a moment in time moseying down steep alleyways and writing about their fashionable and underground features in Hong Kong.
Van Paridon most recently managed to claw her way through a Europe-based academic endeavor called "Journalism". 'Tis in such fashion that she has now turned her lust for China Fashion/ Lifestyle and Underground into a full time occupation.
Van Paridon hunts down the latest in Chinese menswear, women’s clothing, designer newbies, established names, changes in the nation’s street scenery, close-ups of particular trends presently at play or of historical socio-cultural value in Chinaplus a selection of budding photographers.
Paired with a deep devotion to China’s urban underground scene, van Paridon holds a particular interest in the topics of androgyny, the exploration of individuality and the power that is the Key Opinion Leader (the local term for “influencers”) in contemporary China.