The highly anticipated fashion exhibition of the year is finally here! Inspired by Callum Morton’s iconic sculptural work, the Eastlink Hotel, and the critically acclaimed film The Menu (2020), “You Are The Lab Rat” is breaking boundaries in the fashion world. For one week, instead of serving food, New York’s finest fashion were showcased throughout the exhibit.
The exhibition, demonstrating 21 New York City-based designer brands — 10 jewelry and art brands served on the table and 11 fashion or garment brands served on the side — curated a “dinner” environment to stimulate all the visitors. New York-based fashion creative agency Dundu.n highlights each brand’s characteristics through exhibit installations and formal dinner demonstrations.
Brands served on the table:
Mona Jewelry is a brand that draws inspiration from nature and poetry. The designer, Jing Liu, creates timeless jewelry pieces that aim to transcend the limitations of space and national boundaries. Mona Jewelry is known for its signature style, which has been described as “sophisticated simplicity in oceanic poetry.” This style embodies a fusion of elegance and poetic elements, reflecting that brand’s unique aesthetic. Unlike their sustainability and eco-friendly image, the dinner exhibition showcased a deliberate departure from that theme.
During the exhibition, designer Mona Liu intentionally incorporated fake pearls and dramatic customised designs into the collection. The display featured massive pearl pieces, including cross-body pearl chains, scattered throughout the area. The intention behind this approach was to challenge the stereotype of sustainable jewelry brands and push the boundaries of minimalist and maximalist aesthetics.
The juxtaposition of the unconventional materials and striking designs aimed to captivate the audience and create a sense of intrigue. By showcasing the fusion of the minimalist and maximalist, Mona Jewelry aimed to push the boundaries of what is typically associated with sustainable jewelry, challenging preconceived notions, and offering a fresh perspective.
A New York City-based jewelry brand, Softnoise specializes in transforming fleeting moments into sculptural forms. Their focus lies in capturing intimate touches and everyday experiences through unique materials and techniques. The brand’s pieces serve as timeless objects that evolve alongside the wearer. Guided by spontaneity, Softnoise Studio embraces a creative process that infuses each piece with its own unique essence and ongoing journey. In the dinner-table setting, Softnoise Studio brings delicacies in a silver sugarcoat aesthetic with freshly sculptured utensils in the brand’s signature sterling silver, customized silver spoons, and forks to resonate with the atmosphere.
Beadaholic is a sustainable, genderless jewelry brand that aims to bring beaded accessories into daily life. Inspired by the Yin Yang theory, the brand uses different materials to handicraft a natural balance in its intricate patterns. It creates a mélange of traditional ideas and modern beading.
A young and innovative accessories brand based in New York City, Yuan Field has a philosophy to “reflect the prism of one’s real life.” It creates unique and expressive installations that explore the symbiotic field of young creativity.
Tin Tin Tint
Tin Tin Tint is a New York-based jewelry brand founded by painter Teng Teng. The intention is to make art wearable, and many of the pieces are based on the classic theme of picture frames.
Ethically manufactured in India and the United States, SOOD’s products redefine modest fashion and push boundaries by utilising bold silhouettes, eccentric designs, texture, and unique patterns. Through embodying self-expression, SOOD attempts to ignite confidence in its wearer.
Inspired by nature, d’Francisco uses its role in fashion as a means to educate consumers on the importance of protecting and respecting the environment.
A unique and imaginative accessories brand, Dopl World transports you to an alternate reality beyond the reaches of the universe. Celebrating indulgence and luxury, Dopl merges retro-futurism with Rococo in a celebration of inter-dimensional material culture. It attempts to breathe life into its collection of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, body pieces, and more, through human touch — blurring the boundary between “the wearer and the worn.”
A contemporary artist/sculptor based in Brooklyn, Xiong Wei is interested in the emotional bond and rational relationships among people, between human bodies and object bodies, and plays in nature.
Fashion Brands served on the sidewalk:
Joya Ma, a New York-based fashion brand, is making waves with its captivating designs that empower strong and independent women. With a powerful sense of self-expression, Joya Ma creates luxurious garments that celebrate rebellious ambition and desire. The brand seamlessly blends classic influences with exposed silhouettes and dynamic curves, resulting in eye-catching and empowering pieces.
Joya Ma’s designs exude a strong sense of femininity and empowerment, making them both a stylish investment and a tribute to embracing one’s boldest self. From divine jewelry to colourful fashion illustrations that exude femininity, the brand embraces the greatness of a hostess in a breathtaking red-black nightgown. Joya Ma celebrates female independence in an extremely contrasting manner, juxtaposing elements to create a truly unique aesthetic.
In line with the “Dinner Exhibition” theme, Joya Ma carefully selected different poses for mannequins to stimulate diverse customers under varying conditions. This attention to detail ensures that the brand resonates with a wide range of individuals and experiences. Designer Joya Ma went a step further by delicately customising paintings that harmonise with the fancy dining environment, adorning both the walls and tables. This artistic touch not only enhances the visual appeal but also increases interactivity with visitors, creating an immersive experience.
Joya Ma’s designs speak volumes about the brand’s commitment to celebrating femininity, independence, and self-expression. Each piece is meticulously crafted to empower women and inspire confidence. Whether through fashion, jewelry, artistic elements, or elaborate collaboration with Kilame shoe design by Pamela Quinzi, Joya Ma’s designs invite individuals to embrace their unique selves and make a bold statement. The brand’s ability to blend contrasting elements and engage with its audience creates an unforgettable experience that resonates with those seeking both style and empowerment.
In addition to those on the table, the sidewalk featured a number of talented fashion brands as well.
By Cookie H.
Established in New Zealand in 2008 by the eponymous designer, By Cookie H.’s designs celebrate the beauty of imperfection and encourage individuality in fashion, with the belief that nothing and no one is absolutely perfect.
Wen New York
Long Shirt by Wen pushes the proportions of clothing while maintaining its original functions. The designs are influenced by Eastern cultures tracing back to the designer’s roots in the globalization era, exploring Eastern styling and Western tailorings’ harmony.
Drawing inspiration from Dadaism, Xinyu’s work focuses on the concept of “Found Object,” incorporating everyday objects into her designs to create a realistic and natural aesthetic. With a background in the sequin industry through her family’s heritage, Xinyu strives to bring a unique perspective to her work in fashion design.
Tarpley is a luxury fashion brand with the goal of creating the world’s most enticing sustainable fashion. The brand’s “Buddhist Tech Minimalism” concept is reflected in its razor-sharp cuts and minimal silhouettes.
A slow-fashion label, Amihan celebrates all that she is, and all that she can be. The brand’s core vision is a more considered model, inspired by organic fabrics, ethical practices and a sustainable future.
A multidisciplinary artist with a global presence spanning Shanghai, New York, and Paris, Sia Fang is “celebrating the balance in duality of the collection’s bluntness in tenderness and toughness in fragility.”
Drawing inspiration from diverse life journeys and experiences, Bozhao Man — a New York-based menswear brand — embodies an intriguing blend of the unexpected and the conflicted. All the same, they remain rooted in traditional menswear-tailored techniques with meticulous craftsmanship, emphasizing daily functions and performance.
Founded by Tingyu Hu, Alice’s Brain is a New York-based project that specializes in wearable art, textile design, and artist’s books. Tingyu incorporates couture techniques into her apparel works and uses textiles as a narrative for her multimedia artworks to create an escapist outlook.
A NYC-based brand that transcends cultures and time periods, ZEN-AMI offers a handpicked assortment of unique antique, vintage, and tribal jewelry from all corners of the globe.
A soulfully handcrafted brand by Cristina Morrison, Baronesa Hats offers custom-made and one-of-a-kind hats for fashion-conscious individuals.
Each designer brings their own unique perspective and style to the exhibition, showcasing the diverse range of talent in the industry. A transformative experience, this immersive project blurs the lines between private and public space, between reality and illusion. In the same vein, the gallery space has been transformed into a world bursting with contrary events, challenging modernist dreams of ideological and domestic perfection.
“We hope to present fashion in a more fun and interactive way, offering great designs to shine and able to interact with their audiences in person,” Jiajia Wang, curator of “Dinner Exhibition” states her motivation for curating the fashion dinner event. Co-curator Xiaowu Zheng expresses that “Fashion has always been a competitive industry controlled by the big corporations, especially in New York. As designers, we can’t help but feel like lab rats of the invisible hands, waiting to be picked out from the lineup.
However, in this exhibit, we are letting the voice of a new generation of exceptional designers be heard, showing people the power of originality, creativity, and artistry. The venue in the centre of Chelsea itself is a form of protest to pure consumerism, because these designers are here to be seen, and we are here to stay.”
As the ending of this fancy dinner fashion exhibition, Dundu.n combined these 21 independent brands together in an unparalleled storytelling way. The immersive fashion journey is to be continued…