End of WWII inspires winner of fashion design award

By Wu Po-hsuan and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, May 11, 2019 - Page 4

Lu Kuan-yu (盧冠妤), a senior student at Shih Chien University, on Sunday won the Young Pin Design Award for best fashion design for her collection 1945 Koufuku.

The collection was inspired by the love letters written by a Japanese teacher to his Taiwanese lover as he returned to Japan from Taiwan following the end of World War II in the movie Cape No. 7 (海角七號), Lu said at the Young Designers’ Exhibition in Taipei, where the winner was announced.

The letters in the movie encouraged her to study the history of the end of the war in 1945, she said.

After perusing historical materials, including documents, posters and even slogans from the period, she discovered parts of the history of the end of the war that was never taught in school, she said.

Koufuku means “surrender” in Japanese, but is also phonetically similar to the Chinese word guangfu (光復, “restoration”), she said.

She named her collection koufuku to represent the complex emotions that Taiwanese felt at the end of the war, she said.

Like the Taiwanese student in Cape No. 7 who fell in love with a Japanese teacher, were Taiwanese “abandoned” or was Taiwan “restored” — as the common interpretation is today — when the Japanese surrendered in 1945 and Japanese colonial rule came to an end in Taiwan, Lu asked.

Or perhaps these contradictory feelings coexist, she said.

In the past, she learned a lot about the hatred felt by Taiwanese toward Japanese colonial rule, she said.

However, many also saw Japan as a developed country and wanted to study there and imitate its culture, she said, adding that there were people who identified as Japanese and volunteered to fight for Japan.

Textbooks and Republic of China (ROC) history also ignore the US air raids on Taiwan in 1944 and 1945, as well as the Gokoku Maru incident that resulted in serious casualties among Taiwanese soldiers in the Japanese navy, she said.

These inspired her to add various elements of history that had been “forgotten” to her designs, she said.

She also discovered that in 1945, Taiwanese clothing was influenced by a mixture of traditional Han Chinese clothing, Western fashion trends, particularly suits, and Japanese kimonos, she said.

Her collection, which contrasts red against green and includes coats and military-style jackets, incorporates all three styles, she said.

She also stitched war-era slogans, such as “be loyal and serve the country,” to some of the outfits, she said.

Stylist Chen Sun-hua (陳孫華), a judge in the award’s fashion design category, praised Lu for the clear concept behind the collection, as well as the maturity of her technique, including the shapes and materials she uses.

In 1945 Koufuku, one can see the key it would take for Lu’s personal brand to form in the future, he added.