Hong Ahn Pham - Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin
ANTIDOTE – Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin
Antidote – Embracing Sensitivity
Men are rational. Men have to be strong. Men never show weakness. Men never cry.
While fashion designers have moved past rigid gender norms, notions of hegemonic masculinity renounce sensitivity. Boys and men learn to suppress their feelings andemotional expression as they fear mocking, harassment or abuse by others who interpret sensitivity as emasculation and a weakness. Similarly, they abstain from self-expression by participating in fashion as they fear being seen as effeminate.
The collection ANTIDOTE engages with these issues that share their root in hegemonic masculinity. I interviewed ten people about their conceptions and performances of masculinity and sensitivity and asked them present two outfits – a self-representative and a masculine one. The insights that I gained from the conversation and the comparison of their outfit choices served as the primary source of inspiration for the collection. ANTIDOTE explores how men can embrace sensitivity through fashion and express themselves while acknowledging the different social environments and the obstacles and restraints they navigate.
The archetypes and symbols of hegemonic masculinity – such as the suit, the shirt and military garb – are deconstructed and reinterpreted. Various digital and analogue surface manipulation techniques, such as digital and screen print, laser engraving, and embroidery, enrich the designs with experientiality. Traditionally masculinity eschews sensitivity. Here, it is reinstalled by pairing stereotypically masculine associations, such as stiff, dark fabrics and boxy frames, with soft and delicate materials and flowing silhouettes.
The designs reflect the adaptivity of the interviewees to their environment: They shift between feminine and masculine-coded gender expressions and negotiate self-expression and their motives for safety, belonging and access to gender privilege. The layering and combination of garments conceal design elements such as floral prints and embroidery – features that deviate from notions of masculinity. Therefore, a person can choose to subvert or blend into gender stereotypes. The collection explores how masculinity can incorporate sensitivity and how fashion can serve as a protective shell or an antidote to hegemonic structures.
Hong Anh Pham is a German Vietnamese fashion designer and visual artist based in Berlin. She primarily works in menswear, sportswear and print design, for which she draws from a broad repertoire of digital and analogue techniques and technologies. In her works, Pham explores the psychological and social dimensions of fashion that transgress the superficiality of trends and boundaries of consumer products. Pham’s interdisciplinary approach draws inspiration from psychological and sociological research. She is particularly interested in how fashion can empower marginalised people within our society. Combining methods of scientific and artistic research, she utilises the creative process to gain empathy and a better understanding of the issues that these groups are confronted with.
Her creative production takes multiple forms: Pham creates photographs, illustrations, prints, videos and physical and virtual installations during and after the design process. She aims to stimulate conversations about the pressing issues within society and explore how fashion can be a part of a solution and a way to bring us one step closer to utopia. Pham obtained her B.Sc. in Psychology at the University of Würzburg in 2016 and graduated in fashion design at the University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Berlin in 2021. After working in London and Berlin for designers such as Raeburn, Yang Li, Judith Bondy, Last Heirs, and 032c, she started working as a freelance fashion designer collaborating with major sports brands like New Balance. Since 2020, Pham has been pursuing her M.A. in Design and Computation at the Technical University and Berlin University of the Arts and has become a recipient of the Deutschlandstipendium. Her collections and artworks have been showcased and published in Berlin, Munich and Hanoi.
Credits – Antidote – Embracing Sensitivity, Menswear Graduation Collection, Designer: Hong Anh Pham, Photographer: Vincent Tiberius, Hair & Make-up: Lau Perrea, 3D Artists: Anastasia Almasova, Berkay Soykan, Hong Anh Pham, Models: Daniel Marin Medina, Ernst van Hoek, Jordan Spark, Pascal Ball, Special thanks to Viva Models & Tatjana Glowinksi