TATTOOS, TRAVEL & CREATIVITY: CHATTING WITH DR WOO FOR LORO PIANA’S FW23 COLLECTION
Whether in nature or in the big city, Loro Piana designs while keeping in mind the enjoyment of real, active life. To celebrate its FW23 collection, the Italian house has taken over a newsstand in Via dei Giardini and the courtyard of the Loro Piana store in Via Montenapoleone, both turned into a small café that serves drinks from the countries that inspired the latest collection, from Peru to Australia. For the collection, Loro Piana offered soft and elegant silhouettes, including the oversized Horsey Jacket or the practical CashDenim jacket. Outerwear and accessories also became a key part of the collection which led with pragmatism.
The inspirations are vast and the looks are timeless. To celebrate the new collection, we caught up with someone who knows a thing or two about designs that last forever: the legendary Brian Woo, best known as Dr Woo. The tattoo artist started as an apprentice under Mark Mahoney’s iconic Shamrock Social Club and quickly became the go-to artist in L.A., having marked up the likes of Drake, Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevigne and himself. What makes Dr Woo who he is though, is his ability not to be closed off into one creative sector. Spanning over art, fashion and tattoos, Dr Woo has bridged the gap between the three. Today, we got the chance to catch up with the artist to get his thoughts on Loro Piana’s new collection, his artistry and influences.
Hey Brian! What are your thoughts on Loro Piana’s FW23 collection?
Everything looks amazing. I actually feel that for men’s this time, there’s a lot more options, a little bit more casual, but still elegant. I see a lot of things that I would definitely implement into my daily fits, for sure
Your involvement within fashion has spanned for a long time. Have you always been into fashion? What do you feel has influenced your involvement in the field?
I’ve always been into style. As I matured, and grew older and understood more about designers and the culture, that was a foray into fashion. But to me, personal style is still key, above everything else, above trends. Having a gateway into fashion and understanding fabrics, the way things are made and manufactured, the artisanal side of things elevates the whole approach, and gives you a greater appreciation, which taps back into what I do as an artist. Attention to detail and having respect and understanding for meaning and construction.
The collection travels through Australia, New Zealand, Mongolia and Peru, experiencing different atmospheres. How would you say your personal experiences align with the theme?
For me, I’ve been fortunate enough from what I do that I’ve been able to travel the world. Creativity in itself has taken me on journeys globally. It’s great to have inspiration from different cultures and different coordinates around the planet to guide you and give you a broader perspective of how you create and how you look at the world.
Do your tattoos and your personal fashion style match up? Or are they two completely different areas of your creativity?
I think they don’t match up to be honest. I feel that the clothes that I wear don’t necessarily match up to the style of tattoos that I make, which isn’t a bad thing. Because I’m so involved in it, and it’s so ingrained in me that I strive to reach out and maybe find different inspirations for myself at different times, especially when it comes to style. And again, I think style is always there but fashion changes. And with that, you know, the way I dress or what influences me changes, but I have such a distinct tattoo style that it’s really hard to shake that foundation. Yeah. But I think it makes for a good marriage when it comes to the creative process.
Where do you see yourself wearing this collection or your favourite piece besides in Milan?
Like I was saying this [trench coat] here. I can see myself wearing this everywhere. Normally, I wouldn’t say LA because the weather is so consistently warm, but it’s been a little crazy with the weather. It’s been unpredictable, so I definitely think I can wear this in LA now. I actually really like that jacket. I wonder if they make it for men. I just love pieces that are timeless, and you can wear it 10 years from now. Especially leather jackets – the more you wear it, the more it ages, and the better it becomes. It has more of a personality. The classic styling of Lora Piana, in the way it accents you as opposed to taking over your whole look is key because I think that you can wear these things from season to season year after year.
How do you balance artistic expression with client requests, especially when the two conflict?
I lead with my experience, but I definitely take into account what the client wants because at the end of the day, when they leave my studio, I don’t see that tattoo ever again. Well, unless they come back but I don’t live with that tattoo and they have to. So, I definitely have to bend and make the best outcome for both opinions. But I definitely let the client lead. I’m here to execute your idea. I have to be happy with it just as you do.
What’s the most painful tattoo location you’ve ever worked on, and how did the client handle it?
I think the tops of the feet always hurt. The ribs, anything on the torso is usually pretty painful. Anything below the kneecaps, all that skin is really thin and very close. You feel it.
How do you feel about tattoo trends like blackouts, face tattoos, “tramp stamp” stigma?
I think about them the same way as any trend. You have to be prepared that there might be a point where you won’t be happy with it, or it’s not relevant to you and your life anymore. The other side of that is the great risk and spontaneous dedication of tattooing or getting a tattoo, that’s the edge, that’s the angst. That’s why a lot of people get it and that’s a bit of the appeal of the taboo side. For me, when I was young, getting tattoos, I just made a commitment that I’m gonna have these forever, I’m just gonna live with it. That’s the kind of punk rock attitude. I’m almost 42 now. I don’t really regret any of the ones I’ve gotten. Even the ones I got when I was 14 or 15. That’s why I don’t have any on my face.
How do you stay up to date on trends, techniques, and technologies, and how do you incorporate them into your work?
It’s about having your ear and your eyes open, being non judgmental, and having a good radar to hear new things, see new things and try to understand them versus hating on them.
I always thought I was always [part of] the youth, and now getting to the point where I have to listen and observe those behind me that are coming up underneath me, because they have fresh ideas, they have new perspectives that I don’t. Just being able to tap into that asset, especially since now with social media and technology, we’re bombarded with new things. So, just be open and honestly, just stick to the things that inspire you, and things that you like, even if it’s not a trend.
Would you say youth is where you find your creative inspiration?
I wouldn’t say that. But I do find that their hunger and their excitement for things is inspiring to me. I also look to people older than me and people. They say the 10,000 hours, but if you look up someone that’s been doing it for 50,000 hours, they may be a little begrudging in their process, because they’ve been ingrained in it for so long. But there’s nothing better to learn from than experience. So maybe it’s just moderation. Look forward and look to the past, and in the middle is probably where you suck up the best information.
What do you think of tattooing your own body?
I’ve done it. They’re not my masterpieces. I think it’s a little bit for me and more fun. It’s always a little bit harder to drive yourself because you can stop and take a break. As opposed to just sitting there and just getting the tattoo and you don’t have to think about actually doing your tattoo. You can just think about not hurting.
What else do you have planned while in Milan with Loro Piana?
We’re gonna have a wonderful dinner later. And then yeah, maybe look through more of this collection and take some notes to see what I might wear later.