Text by Gennady Oreshkin
Fashion designer and Prestige 40 Under 40 2022 honouree Christian Stone refuses to let anything stop his creativity – even physics.
With a collection of beaded balaclavas, oversized jackets of exquisite quality and heels that double as bags, Christian Stone – known as iamongrindr on Instagram – is one of Hong Kong’s brightest fashion stars. We talk to the prodigious designer about the root of his signature aesthetic and his time at Christian Dior, and discover how challenging it is to turn a padded envelope into a jacket.
I draw my ideas from the Internet, video games, music and anything I find in the virtual world. I’m interested in a range of phenomena and oddities in the online world, such as The Backrooms, SCP Foundations, Liminal Spaces, Internet Icebergs and Memes. I absorb this information like a sponge, and when it comes to the time to create narratives for my collections, I draw inspiration from these nuggets of cyberspace, interpret them and translate them into clothing designs for the real world. So my work and my brand serve as a bridge to connect the virtual and the physical world.
My inspiration has always championed functionalities within everyday garments and objects. I’m most interested in subverting expectations of function and concepts of dysfunctionality. Coming up with “the functional twist” has always been a crucial design approach for me, so I observe what people are wearing on the street every day, why they need certain pieces and how they’re using their clothing to turn functions on their heads, redefine them and create something new.
My time at Christian Dior has given me an opportunity to use soft and delicate fabrics to practice draping for womenswear design. So now, though the brand focuses primarily on menswear, I can infuse menswear designs with womenswear couture pattern-cutting and draping techniques, creating exciting silhouettes and making the pieces feel more gender-fluid.
The most difficult piece I made was the envelope jacket from my graduate collection. Because the surface texture of the garment imitates that of an air-padded envelope, I needed to sandwich upcycled air-bubble sheets in between the layers of fabric. I couldn’t stitch, quilt or use heat adhesive to bond the sheets because the bubbles would bust. To keep them intact, the sheets had to be cut without the seam allowance and spray mounted to every individual piece of fabric. Then, I hand massaged the sandwiched layers of material to get the nooks and crannies of the air-bubble texture to come through on the surface of my fabric, so it would look like a padded envelope. It was very time- consuming and meticulous.
I had my Instagram handle – imongrindr – way before I started my brand. In 2016, the idea randomly entered my brain as I’ve been spending a lot of time on [the gay dating app] Grindr. It was one of those lightbulb moments – an organic thought. I honestly didn’t expect it to become such a great talking point! Now, when people I just met ask for my Instagram, I say “Imongrindr” – and they think I’m being super random to suddenly bring up the fact I use Grindr.
Text by Gennady Oreshkin