CFGNY’ project of the “vaguely Asian” expands what Asian-ness can mean. It understands the experience of Asian-ness as an experience of being racialized that sits somewhere between inherited cultural legacy and the alienation of being perceived, rather than emanating from some kernel of truth. CFGNY draws out the contours of a “vaguely Asian” by creating installations, ceramics, performance, and garments.
Through our research in preparation for our show Refashioning at Japan Society, we were intrigued to find that the Japan Society, since its inception as an American business venture, has been inadvertently invested in a “vaguely Asian” by producing a distilled narrative of Japanese-ness, and by extension an Asian-ness, for an American audience throughout its 115 year history. Our engagement with Refashioning extends to the process of dissection performed on prevailing narratives of nationhood, race, and relationality.
In pursuing the “vaguely Asian,” CFGNY seeks to displace singular authoritative narratives of place and history. A central tenet of the project is the cultivation of community through collaboration: casting is one way of inviting people in. Collaborators come from all parts of our lives: some are life-long childhood friends, others are artists we are actively engaged in a dialogue with, others still are new friends who share an obsession with garments. They include figures such as Chinchakriya Un, whose innovative approach to diasporic Cambodian food has induced an avid following; artist Josh Kline whose influence is widely felt today; and multi-hyphenate writer, editor, model and actor Blake Abbie.
Our work in making clothing with tailor-owned and operated small businesses based in Ho Chi Minh City introduces another material to this conversation, where garment making becomes a shared language. Similar to the cohort of models represented on our runway, the tailors we work with feature new and returning collaborators with each production run.
Fashion Max 2 is inspired by the reworking of language that accompanies our garment production. Through conversations, texts and e-mails, the language that we share with the tailors exists somewhere between English and Vietnamese, often interpreted through an online translator. While the grammar and syntax of our sentences often waver in form, the communication that it provides allows us to collaborate and create garments that surprise.
CFGNY: Fashion Max 2 is the third presentation of fashion hosted by Japan Society, following historic shows by Issey Miyake (1971) and Hanae Mori (1973). CFGNY is greatly honored to be placed in the lineage of these two designers, which acknowledges the importance and effect that a conversation around diaspora can have on notions of Japanese-ness.
William Morgan Hampton IV
Shiseido Americas / James Boehmer JPatrick
David Brandon Geeting
Native Agents / Cynthia Leung
Celina Linh Thy Huynh
Diane Severin Nguyen
A Special Thank You to
Tiffany Lambert, Ayaka Iida, Daqian Cao, Stefanie Oh, Cynthia Leung, Olin Caprison, Ngoc Le, Maria Pestana, Helen Nguyen, & Telfar