Artist Scotty So On Performing High Fashion

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MELBOURNE-BASED performance and multimedia artist Scotty So grew up looking through Harper’s BAZAAR publications in Hong Kong. Early in daily life the composition, theatricality and “utter glamour” of BAZAAR’s glossy handles and editorial pictures piqued his fascination in fashion as a performance medium to explore individual and cultural identification. 


Now based in Melbourne, So’s combined-media apply combines drag, effectiveness art, and visual art in every thing from stay operatic performances to self-styled theatrical studio shoots featuring clothes of his own development. His perform invites viewers to take into account the position of trend in culture and society, exploring the notion of a significant vogue ‘illusion’ by way of the lens of an artist who does not determine as currently being portion of the manner business. 

Channei, 2021, digital photograph | COURTESY SCOTTY SO & MARS GALLERY. 
Fenli, 2021, digital photograph | COURTESY SCOTTY SO & MARS GALLERY. 

“I did not have a vogue history when I started out my artwork apply, I was never portion of the trend earth. Even now, I can’t find the money for to get into that environment of haute couture,” suggests So. 

“But I realised that I delight in cultural clothes as significantly as higher trend, and I commenced checking out the class and glamour existing in other variations of garments I could obtain, clothes that have been familiar to me like kimonos and the regular Chinese cheongsam.” 

So started to take a look at the imaginative options at the intersection of pictures, efficiency and textiles even though learning wonderful art at the Victorian Faculty of the Arts. With no formal stitching or trend design teaching, he would sneak into the costume office and ask the staff if he could use the sewing device to experiment with generating kimonos and cheongsam in whatever material he could uncover. 

Now represented by main Australian contemporary art gallery, MARS Gallery, So’s exercise has developed to be highly exploration-led, drawing from his personal Thai and Chinese cultural heritage in conjunction with narratives from style, queer society and common-tradition inspiring his performances as alluring feminine figures. Be it a Kabuki theatre star, an aria-singing operatic femme, or his own drag change-ego, Scarlett So Hung Son, vogue and clothing are the efficiency guise via which the artist explores lifestyle and identity. 

“The additional I conduct as different people, the a lot more I examine who I am as an artist and a individual. Various silhouettes give you unique postures, and a different feeling when you wear them,” So states. 

“When I was developing up in Hong Kong I wore fits a great deal, and they made me feel complex, and so I carried myself in a certain way. When I moved to Australia, I definitely formulated my drag and effectiveness art, and I carried myself otherwise when carrying clothes like the cheongsam and kimono. With this alter of actual physical movement comes a change of id,” he provides. 

So’s exuberant resourceful perspective has attained him efficiency and fee alternatives at some of Australia’s most superior-profile art and society activities, such as NGV Triennial (2020), Melbourne Art Fair (2022) and Photograph 2022. Where by will the up coming So-extravaganza pop up? RISING’s Golden Square, an immersive artwork carpark where by you’ll be mesmerised by an iridescent So dressed as the Chinese moon goddess in a holographic organza gown that drifts ethereally via the place, among other guises. He will also exhibit a everyday living-size hologram of himself accomplishing as drag character Scarlett So Hung Son. Sci-fi-seductive, believe holographic Kate Moss for Alexander McQueen Fall/Wintertime 2006. 

Like many millennials, So also grew up looking at trend truth Tv demonstrates like America’s Next Top rated Model and Undertaking Runway, exactly where he was 1st introduced to phrases like ‘high fashion’ and ‘haute couture.’ He remembers staying captivated by the editorial visuals he saw on display, and would consider to operate out how they ended up produced, or what he appreciated about their composition. Then one particular day, he learned Alexander McQueen. 

“I would enjoy his displays and they blew my mind each and every time. I was witnessing live artwork, not vogue. What McQueen place on the runway was, by some expectations, deemed ‘ugly’, but you completely couldn’t cease looking at it, notably collections like Voss from 2001. That one particular truly hit me tough,” he suggests. 

Artists and designers typically favour a recurring stylistic motif, which permeates their get the job done as their follow evolves. For So, it’s the cheongsam. With its tasteful standing collar and sort-fitting proportions, this classic Chinese women’s night costume has been reimagined by the artist in a range of components like those crimson, blue and white nylon storage bags and, far more just lately, a Louis Vuitton-design monogram printed cloth. 

“My get the job done is about truths. At first the Louis Vuitton monogram was inspired by a Japanese relatives crest. So is the cheongsam I have developed from this duplicate fabric inspired by Louis Vuitton, or by Japanese society and historical past?” So muses. 

“If I’m in drag wanting amazing putting on bogus Louis Vuitton, does it make a difference if what I’m donning is fake or real? Right after all, I’m not a genuine female either. I think I’m making an illusion, and that is what matters. If you appear expensive and existing on your own in a particular way, people today actually are captivated by your aura, and abruptly, it’s not about how significantly you compensated for your handbag.”

And a modern ultimate word from Scotty So?

“Of study course, my suggestions is to go for the real factor. If you can afford the Hermès Birkin, certainly go for it.”

See Scotty So complete stay at Growing Melbourne.



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