FROM A STRUCTURED PERSPECTIVE
Words Latoya P. Henry
Photography Rachel Thalia Fisher
Finding the right element within menswear, while positioning a new perception on how men could express their masculinity and personality, without losing their personal finesse. Designer Julian Woodhouse has transitioned the way we view menswear through structure, minimalism, expression, masculinity, femininity and style all wrapped into the brand WOOD HOUSE. His objective is to develop something special within menswear, from his signature secret pockets, to the three-dimensional pieces that molds into the shape of the wearer and how well the garments naturally flow on the body. Woodhouse’s ideal approach is to expand the horizons on how we view traditional menswear by developing pieces with intricate fabrics, paneling, bold patterns and shapes. While discussing his take on menswear, Woodhouse expressed his keen understanding of what he feels men of today want, in terms of style and comfortability. Aside from his great sense of humor and his sharp style, I admire Woodhouse’s understanding for the future of design, and how he expresses that things are changing and how the market should have a stronger understanding on how quickly things are evolving.
What’s the story behind WOOD HOUSE?
Julian Woodhouse: After modeling I got into styling then graphic design. Both of my parents were in the military so I lived in Korea for four years as a kid, so I love that country. I decided to come back to Korea when I joined the military. I just went there to explore the country, so I wasn’t really sure on what I wanted to do, I just wanted be in Korea because it was the closest thing to the military, and also something that I was interested in as far as fashion.
So in Korea I modeled and styled, and then I started to do accessories and jewelry on request. Eventually merging into personal styling, through styling I started to notice I would change everything that I was pulling from showrooms. So I decided that maybe I could do my own ready to wear collection. My first collection, which was for fall-winter, consisted of dark monochromatic colors, very heavy and structured with beautiful textures. During the whole time I was designing, at the end I was recreating what I love most about womenswear on menswear. I go shopping a lot, typically I’m so bored because I don’t see anything that I like but when I check out womenswear there are so many options for instance, high-lows, interesting necklines, the texture and different cuts for the patterns. So I decided to incorporate that into WOOD HOUSE, that’s the kind of baseline I started with.
So the first collection was quilted denim and with the spring-summer collection is more colorful and playful, the fabrics are lighter, definitely more lifestyle oriented, but still definitely editorial oriented in style and statement worthy. Korea is really great for sourcing really interesting materials, like neoprene and like different types of variations of that, like athletic mesh is really cool there and obviously for living in Korea for such a long time and Asia as well, I’m very inspired by the mandarin collar so I use that as the baseline for most of my shirts in this collection.
Simple shirts with high-low detailing in the back, Asymmetrical pocket trousers that extend to the back and cropped to the calf. The one thing that I like about womenswear is that you could wear it either high waisted or at the regular waist or lower waist, personally I like things high waisted and a lot of the guys I know especially my husband they like things lower, so I decided to add that into the collection, so that you have the option to wear it higher or lower. I aim for pieces that are comfortable on the body and light weight, flowing when you walk, feeling very exciting to wear, but also very simple.
LH: What mostly inspired the style of print you have for your ss16 menswear collection?
Hmm, I definitely like color blocking, I like layering, but I wanted to be a little free and I wanted the colors to clash a bit, because I don’t like things that are too boring but that’s’ not the right word. I’m just not too inspired by things that don’t clash a little bit. It adds a story to the clothing it also adds a story to the person that is wearing it. With my collection I paid a little homage to classic menswear, before, styling consisted of a higher waistline not dropped, I just like the way that shape looks with the triangular upper body and then the bottom has a high waist.
So I did two skirts this collection with side zippers, bold patterns on the front as well as in the back and one of my signatures is the back pocket it’s one pocket but once you unzip it has two pockets on the inside, so I wanted to do something special with that. One of the more intricate pants we did this season it has two layers, it has a bit of a skirt feel to it. What I love most about this piece is how it flows when you walk. For our second skirt I wanted to show a little bit a leg because it’s cool and when I shot my fashion film I was like oh my god there’s so much man leg it’s a horrible term but I didn’t realize that something like this could be incorporated into menswear. It’s just outside of shorts and it could be still masculine and you still feel comfortable.
So in general, what fabrics do you prefer to work mostly with?
For fall and winter I mostly prefer to work with structured fabrics; I have a few highlights of the fall collection displayed on this rack. It’s heavier and it’s structured, for instance this jacket, compared to a lot of the heavier coats we have It just adds so much more character to the clothes. For spring and summer I try to keep things light by working with linens, cotton blends and some silk blends, preferably things that are wrinkle proof. That just makes sense for life but also really cool when it comes to fusions of the clothing and how they’re presented.
Gathering inspiration is quite a challenge, how do you stay above the curve when designing a collection and where do you draw most of your inspiration?
For me it is trying to find the balance of being too progressive and too creative beyond marketability, and trying to hone in and really focus on the whole picture of what I’m actually doing. I’m kind of a free spirit and sometimes I go as far as I want, pulling resources from everywhere and then have a whole inspiration board of these things that just doesn’t make any sense, tying things together and keeping a consistent vision, but also a movement throughout the creative process.
How do you feel about trends, would you say they play an important role towards your collection or do you prefer something of your own aesthetic?
More conceptually than physically trends, I would say a trend now that more designers and myself are definitely going for is to push menswear beyond normal tops, bottoms and jackets. We’re using different pattern making techniques to create interesting pieces that build all together, so I think that is definitely a concept that I’m on board for because that’s how I dress myself, how I style my clients and how I design my collection, but as far as the physical aspects of trends, I say high-lows I’m a huge fan of that.
Let’s talk a bit about the future of menswear design. Do you believe menswear style is currently evolving, and do you feel WOOD HOUSE is generating a new way to view men’s clothing?
Definitely, I think it is. I think that the furthest you could go in my opinion when it comes to creative menswear is progressive and androgyny. Its really interesting, but androgyny I think as great as it is, it has a tendency to scare the market, plenty of men feel like if they want to dress like a guy they want to feel like that, I’m in the military so I can see that from a distance even though I haven’t experienced that myself. A lot of the guys I personally design for always say, “I don’t want to look too androgynous, and I still want to feel like me”. I find that men just don’t have something special for them, sometimes. I think the designers like Givenchy and Balmain do a very good job at creating statement worthy pieces that make a guy feel special and important but you still feel like a guy and that’s kind of what I like to do for the guys that I dress. In terms of WOOD HOUSE generating a new way of viewing menswear, I think we are, our first collection had a lot of skirt panels, which I also did for the spring-summer collection and I think that I got a lot of positive feedback from my network in Korea and positive feedback so far from meeting with different stylist. I’m hoping to be able to lead some sort of conversation at the end of the day just to see how far menswear can go.
Who is the ideal WOOD HOUSE gentleman?
Someone who is confident, definitely confidence is important and someone that is comfortable with not being restricted to societal norms on how a man should dress with just one thing plus another equals a man, that’s frustrating for myself. The one thing that’s interesting is I think society is ready for a change, I think men are actually ready for something new, but menswear is not catching up to where men are.
Why do you feel this way?
For example being in the military, it’s a very interesting environment especially when you work in fashion all the time. When I first came into the military I was expecting a more of a homophobic environment, I was expecting a type A, straight laced environment where I would not be able to be myself at work and I just had to wait until I came home and do what I wanted to do, but it was the complete opposite.
Read The Entire Interview In the Latest Edition Bare
Photography Rachel Thalia Fisher
Assistant Marcy Ayres
Models Lera and Anastassia at APM
Makeup Sarah Salice
Styling Brenden Alexander