Telum Talks To... Pooky Lee, Freelance Fashion Writer
Pooky Lee turns the energy into his studio ExhibitingFashion.org while contributing feature planning to media on a freelance basis. From his view, writing and curation are complementary for a boarder narrative in the cultural, social and human context.
You have been working at fashion magazines since you started in media. What attracts you most in the fashion field?
Fashion is about how people dress up and the presentation of it. I'm interested in the logics behind these behaviours and everything in relation to them, from the creative thinking of fashion designers to buying hobbies of consumers, from communication skills of media and public relations to visual reinterpretation by photographers and stylists.
What made you decide to leave and devote yourself to your own fashion curation studio business?
I want to explore a new way of creating and communicating fashion content. Good media should not only produce content of good quality but also understand how to deliver it to a target audience. If the public's attention starts to shift away from traditional print media, how could we ensure our messages are well-received by the audience? This is why I wish to work more on exhibitions, lectures, open classes and other public activities, as well as non-traditional forms of in-depth reports, with a view to regain public attention on fashion and cultural subjects.
You are now working as a fashion writer while running your studio. How do you think of the two roles?
Writing and curating are complementary to each other. My studio aims to produce fashion content that has more long-lasting values. In addition to exhibitions, lectures and consultant work, a good fashion feature is always my concern. In the early stage of a project, we carefully research, communicate and identify suitable collaborators as per every characteristic of the project. Regarding different features and interviews, I work with Chinese fashion media, such as Vogue China, Harper's BAZAAR China, T Magazine China and Wallpaper* China, as well as The Business of Fashion and Modern Weekly.
What type of story is most attractive to you?
I like to talk to people, especially those with unique ideas or who can represent the diversity of the fashion industry. For example, I have done several feature stories this year: I invited the three key creative minds of the blockbuster exhibition "Tim Walker: Wonderful Things" held at the V&A Museum in the UK for a group conversation. This was the only interview featuring all three key figures that the museum granted. Also, Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator-in-Charge of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, only spoke to me on his latest work "Camp: Notes on Fashion" among the Chinese media. The feature story I planned for T Magazine China for Prada was praised by Ms. Prada herself as "true Prada manifesto".
Most of your interviews are published through social media or your personal LinkedIn. Do you think social media platforms are ideal for freelancers to spread news?
I think a good social media platform should reflect one's personality and attract the right group of people who share the same interest and belief. With the presentation of social media, content can reflect our preferences of insight and value, and what it would be like if the content is "transformed" into a person. Though different distribution channels have different dissemination effects, this is not always the core of the problem. At the moment, it's more important to let the right people know what we do rather than to let everyone know what we do.
Fashion curation provides a more comprehensive narrative in the cultural, social and human context. Does fashion curation re-curate your life as well?
Curators need to think more about the relationship between object and space, body, text as well as imagery, which pushes us to observe the world more comprehensively. Also, one of the things I always worry about is that I can't bring enough information to the one I am communicating with. Curation can help to compensate for the shortcomings of text and pictures in traditional content planning.