Louis Shengtao Chen: “You see, the climax of it all is not in the ending, not the pupa transforming into a moth, but in the process itself. Unraveling the cocoon, in the moments of longing, struggling, enjoying, and emerging, that unknown, heart-wrenching, splendid and fulfilling moment. I often feel that the result is not the most beautiful part of the story. Beauty, exists in every little moment of discovering beauty, an ecstatic sensation that resonates from the core to the brain. This sometimes painful process, so exquisite, addictive, and it stirs me, attracts me.”

Q: “Orgasmic!”

A brightly lit room. Not even a shadow can be hidden. A single murmur can be heard so clearly across. In a hush and holding of a breath, Louis Shengtao Chen, commences, in a presentation of his 2024 Spring/Summer collection, under a total moment of sanity. 

The collection explores an emotive process of creation, it honors each tremble of excitement when beauty is uncovered, when a subtle rush of electricity is felt, when a body tickles, and the fingers crunch. Louis plays with the intricate inner feelings of shame, the shame of expressing, yet wanting to express. All taking place in a momentary of fragility, of lust, and a yearning for the unknown. 

Orgasmic. A feeling all so familiar to most, yet so few are willing to reveal. In his journey of evolution, Louis Shengtao Chen has always dived himself into a black hole of romance. The romance is now bloating out to the water’s surface. Is that a subtle humming we hear? “The End of the World”? Maybe that’s it. A quiet mumble, full of depth and sorrows, scared to be sung out loud, fearful of vulnerability.

Like a moth, breaking out from its cocoon. Louis Shengtao Chen follows the main thread of the collection and cuts away the complexity in his first attempt. He turns cloth into layers of skin, peeling, peeling, until all the raw form and edges are shown in bare skin. Red sequin and lace covered eyes; oversized peacoats tightly hovering over pearl embroidered mesh dresses; exaggerated fabric trimmed headscarves disguising the wearer’s identity in a form of snake; it’s glamour in anonymity, a hide-and-seek of desire, a peekaboo of insecurity. 

Girls walk down the runway with a subtle sense of unease. Head crowned, floral pinned, colors bright and shining, yet arms crossed to blatantly cover their inner unsettling emotions. Blood velvety red linings underneath a traditional English checkered overcoat over burgundy stockings. Spikes and cone-shaped 3D shoulders protect the torn-up floral cut-out evening dress, as if no one can, or should, get anywhere nearer. An AI created doll face printed on a puffed skirt, weaving alongside lines of sophistication, in a joking manner that mocks its own presence. 

Security, insecurity, protection, imperfection, when all is honestly presented in front of truth, should one judge, or should one admire?