“It’s a Couturier’s Horror Story”—Newcomer Robert Wun Finds Inspiration in Scary Movies

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Couture week and horror movies hardly make obvious bedfellows, but for his debut on the Paris calendar—the week’s closing show—Robert Wun felt it made perfect sense.

“It definitely came from my own fear and insecurity when I told Bruno [Pavlovsky, the president of Chanel and his mentor] that I wanted to do a show, and then the Federation voted unanimously to put me on the calendar,” the designer told Vogue. “I never thought that would be reachable.”

Wun said he started thinking about the significance of joining the official couture calendar and what he could offer that was new. “I wanted to do something that can put two extremes together to find a new balance. If couture is only beautiful and delicate and inspired by flowers, then everyone winds up doing the same thing.”

His mind turned to the tailors and technicians who bring the clothes to life, and how everyone lives in fear of breaks, stains, and other catastrophes. “I channeled what would be the worst thing that could happen on the runway, and decided to channel it into self-belief, embracing it and turning it into something beautiful,” he continued.

A horror film fan himself, Wun tapped into his fascination with Georgie Denbrough, Pennywise’s early victim in Stephen King’s It, and killer clowns, throwing it all into a show that, once you look beyond the broken heels, splattered wine, and singed edges, showed technical flair. A sunray- and micro-pleated gown had a silvery cast and deliberate cut-outs, and was worn with a veil the designer burned using incense. The final look, a black sprouting white feathers, was inspired by a cigarette-burned puffer.

As for that wine-spattered gown, the designer noted, one may well wonder whether it sprang from an evil clown movie: Is that blood or Bordeaux? “There’s something quite realistic about it, when you push emotions to the limit,” he said. The staining process for that one turned out to be so delicate, it ended up ruining the original piece, whose ruching and construction took three weeks to complete. After a few days spent trying to salvage the dress, the designer had no choice but to start over; he and his team completed the dress shown on the runway in less than a week, finishing embroidery nearly up to show time.

“That one resonates with me most,” he said, “It’s a couturier’s horror story in itself; I was so happy when it was done because it was traumatic and stressful. You have to find the will to make sure everything happens in the best way.” All’s well that ends well: The designer said he is already fielding hundreds of calls. And the name Robert Wun will be back on the couture schedule in July.

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