FAULT Dressing Room: Priory of Ten

pot_web_01Designer Spotlight: Priory of Ten
In Issue 15, we spoke with Mei Liu, the designer behind up-and-coming womenswear brand Priory of Ten.

When did you first become interested in fashion?
I’ve had an interest in design since a very young age. I’ve always loved to draw and build things with my hands. My interest in fashion really evolved in high school as I began working in the retail industry and experimenting with my own style.

Before launching Priory of Ten in 2012, what other experience did you have in the fashion industry? (I believe you worked as a design assistant to Philip Lim at some point?)
I studied at Parsons AAS program and interned at a couple of contemporary womenswear labels. I was a Design Assistant for the womenswear department at 3.1 Phillip Lim for close to two years upon graduation.

Where did the name for your brand, “Priory of Ten”, originate?
The name ‘Priory of Ten’ was actually conceived when we were travelling around Asia. During our travels, we were constantly drawing inspiration from our surroundings and the different cultures that we were immersed in. We were staying in a boutique hotel in Bangkok called Tenface, and we were really driven by the idea of ten faces as a collective. It was not necessarily a literal translation of ten faces coming together, but instead the notion of having a collective of people come together and foster a community. This is how Priory of Ten came into fruition, with ‘Priory’ representing the house or community we wanted to build and ‘Ten’ acting as a tribute to the source of our inspiration.

pot_web_02What inspired your A/W 2013 collection?
I was initially really inspired by Americana and the traditional notions of classic American men’s workwear. I loved daydreaming about the colours and textures that came together in these rustic environments. The Fall collection takes on the exploration of the rustic, traditionally blue-collar, male-dominated industries like old denim factories, kitchens and Japanese fisheries. It explores the idea of juxtaposing traditionally masculine, rugged workwear with elegant silhouettes and fine fabrics with a touch of femininity. Large components of the collection play on the idea of creating a faux illusion of traditional uniforms in these environments that are translated in playful ways.

Is there one piece from the A/W 2013 collection that is your favourite?
I developed a double waistband denim series meant to capture the rugged casual vibe of classic workwear. However, the denim is not made from true indigo at all, and it does not bleed in the wash. It is meant to playfully emulate the feeling of old denim workwear through silhouette and look, but in a totally illusory manner. The  boyfriend cut jean in this series is my favorite—it carries a strong fashion element but in a very relaxed and casual way.

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What fabrics do you most enjoy working with? Are there any fabrics and/or techniques that you would like to explore in future collections?
I love working with tailoring fabric (like fine wools for suiting). I also love developing new techniques on leather. For the next collection, I’m getting heavy into dip-dyeing and laser cutting patterns, which should be really fun.

Who is the Priory of Ten woman?
The Priory of Ten Woman is a little bit of a bad-ass, but in the most subtle and elegant way. She plays with the idea of bending the rules, whether it relates to gender roles or societal roles. She is rebellious but always quietly so. She is an individual thinker. She is intelligent and cognisant of current cultural and world issues. She’s comfortable in her own skin, empowered and is not afraid to exude her sexuality. She dresses to represent her way of life and to be true to who she is, rather than to construct an identity.

What do you have in store for us next season?
I always experience this internal tension between soft and harsh, aggressive and feminine. Fall was our most androgynous, aggressive collection to date, and for Spring 2014, I’m feeling very floaty and romantic again. I would like to get heavy into draping with beautiful crêpes and playing with subtle fabric manipulations. I’m drawn to the idea of beautiful structures like jellyfish and air balloons that are totally inflated by the water and air that supports them but that can collapse into nothingness when that supporting element goes away.