Much preferred to be known as a “garment engineer” than a “fashion designer,” Max Tan’s aesthetics for his label MAX.TAN have always been that of androgynous-meets-soft geometry, paying meticulous attention towards tailoring and draping, and creating unexpected silhouettes and austere moods.
Claiming his works to be “serious but never severe, minimal but never simple, fragile by never weak,” MAX.TAN’s garments, since its inaugural showcase at Modefabriek in Amsterdam back in 2010 (the first Asian-based label that year too, mind you), have always been playing with volume, modified shape and use, masculinity or femininity, deconstruction and reconstruction as well as transformation.
Each collection comes with a thematic story that weaves itself with that of the Higher Being. For the SS14 collection, it was of Genesis, linked with the genesis of ‘Woman out of Man’ (the first woman, Eve, was created by God from one of Adam’s ribs), and a series of garments that are masculine yet distinctively feminine.
This year, the Spring/Summer collection is themed ‘Thou Shalt Not’, taking after the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses by God Himself. However, it is not about the reoccurring battle of whether the Ten Commandments, a definite set of rules cast stolidly in the stones of time, are archaic or contemporary, primitive or modern, old or new. Instead, it is about the desire to attain this “perfect” way of living through our fundamental imperfection and through the evolution of time. Being inherently flawed, perfection is impossible to attain. Yet, we do not stop to achieve this. As a result, perfection becomes a destruction of experimental outcomes, and despite this, we live by these rules of perfection in our flawed way.
The collection explores the possible outcomes from getting out of the captivity of artificial rules and standards; when there is no conformity, there is greater room for growth. It all boils down to the core of design ideology, building up from basic forms, light, line works, contrast, and stripping over-finished garments.
MAX.TAN believes that to design without the design in mind, is still a form of creation.