Lulu Tan Gan ‘yarn bombs’ Greenbelt’s garden

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LULU TAN GAN, the queen of knitwear, has put colorful sweaters on the trees at Makati City’s Greenbelt Park. Amidst all the green in the mall’s garden, the fashion designer has injected bright pops of color, making the shoppers stop to take some pictures and marvel at the handiworks.

“The challenge is dressing something that is very tall and has 110-inch waistline,” said the designer, laughing, during the launch of her art installation called Yarn Bomb Knit Bomb.

Her art installation, on view until Jan. 14, is a collaboration between Greenbelt and Ayala Museum in a project called G.A.M.E., which commissions artists to make the mall’s garden their canvas and playground. Ms. Gan is the project’s first artist — no other artists are on the lineup yet.

“When it comes to the museum experience, traditionally, we think of white walls and art works as simply displayed in frames and on glass counters. But we see it beyond this,” said Joseph Reyes, assistant vice-president and area head of Central Manila, Ayala Malls Group.

“This is a unique gallery that goes beyond and outside the typical walls of a museum. You can touch, see, and experience the art,” added Ms. Gan of her artwork.

For this exhibition, Ms. Gan called 30 crochet hobbyists to help her with the project.

She said crochet-making is a dying art, and the project wants to revive it. Perhaps, part of the reason why crochet and knitting are being forgotten is because they are often associated with old maids and grandmas. Ms. Gan suggests making these handicrafts more modern.

“It is very important to create new products, especially for the millennials. And one of the things that has been done today is giving it a new form, a new shape. It has probably been elevated as an art form. Whereas I am into fashion design, even myself, I added on another art form which is art installation [to reinvent myself]. I think the kids will see it differently because they will see it not so ‘granny’ as you say,” she said.

She added while laughing, “Probably people should stop making coasters. That’s the old idea.”

Yarn, which can be knitted, crocheted, and woven, she said, can be used to make as accessories like laptop covers, and dresses. “It’s just a matter of redesigning it,” she said.

To help make yarn work become more fashionable and youth-friendly, Ms. Gan — who is a program consultant at the College of St. Benilde — advocates that the school’s fashion-related courses focus on a subject called “fabric design,” which could bring out the best in a designer while elevating his or her skills.

“It does bring out individualism. We also teach them how to use yarn for construction, which means you can use the same yarn to weave, the same yarn to crochet, the same yarn to knit. That is my medium for the longest time,” she said.

And she sees a good future for yarn if people, especially style arbiters like her, start thinking out of the box.

“Ten years ago I started the use of piña (pineapple fiber) as a ready-to-wear material. I was asked a lot, ‘Is it going to sell?’ ‘Who wants to wear piña?’ but now it’s 10 years [and look where piña is]. I think the role of a designer is to influence the future. We should do that. If you’ve grown enough, you should be able to inspire, recreate, and reinnovate, especially our traditional crafts,” said the queen of knit. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman