Song for the Mute – Directional menswear from design duo Lyna Ty and Melvin Tanaya
View recent Song for the Mute collections on Australian Fashion Review Blog
Sydney-based boutique menswear label, Song for the Mute is the creative union of Italian-trained fashion designer Lyna Ty and award winning graphic artist Melvin Tanaya. Launched in 2008, the brand quickly gained a loyal following for their unique and interesting approach to tailoring – inspired by the properties of fabrics, such as wool, linen and cotton, the brand’s collections have become known for sweeping silhouettes and exquisite finishing and detail.
The star of Song for the Mute has continued to rise becoming the first menswear label to win the prestigious Designer Award the 2011 L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, beating off strong competition from Arnsdorf, Bassike, Ellery, Lui Hon, Dress Up, Laurence Pasquier and From Britten. With the aim to support ‘up-and-coming’ label’s, the award saw the brand receive $10,000 and the opportunity to mingle with some of the world’s biggest fashion houses in either Paris or Florence. Previous winners of the Design Award have included Romance Was Born, Josh Goot, Claude Maus and Friedrich Gray.
As of 2012, Song for the Mute was planning its debut at Australian Fashion Week and pondering the move into more unisex fashions. As well as, being available throughout Australia in selected boutiques, including Harrolds, Australia’s only luxury men’s store, Song for the Mute has stockists in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Romania
Back in October 2009, Australian Fashion Review Blog were lucky enough to chat to Song for the Mute co-founders Lyna and Melvin, for an exclusive Q&A session.
Who are behind Song for the Mute? What are your backgrounds?
Born in Paris, with Cambodian and Chinese heritage, Lyna Ty grew up in France before moving to Sydney in 1997. As a child, Lyna learnt the skills of a seamstress from her mother and relatives, many in the employ of the fashion industry in France, and she took those skills with her to Australia where she was always destined for a career in fashion.
In 2006, Lyna’s talents and pedigree was awarded the Student of the Year in Fashion Design & Textiles from the Whitehouse Institute of Design, and received a special graduation present: a full year’s scholarship at the renowned Accademia Italiana di Moda in Florence, Italy to complete her Masters degree.
She completed her Masters course in Product & Fashion Design and continued to display the blend of creativity and hard-work that had won awards back home. It paid off in 2008, with Vivienne Westwood giving Lyna plaudits for her Masters collection, commenting that it was one of the top three collections in the school’s end of year parade.
Along with her considerable gifts as a seamstress, Lyna has also gained a knack for pattern making and a talent for constructing garments. These abilities came into fruition with the debut Song for the Mute collection ‘Ink’ (Autumn/Winter 2010) – where Lyna constructed all of the pieces by herself.
Raised in Australia but born in Indonesia, Melvin Tanaya was the product of a very successful, albeit traditional family. With his family members being successful in other industries, Melvin had limited artistic opportunities as a child. But his creative license proved difficult to unhinge, and his talent soon shone when his HSC major work in Art got nominated for Art Express.
With the confidence that comes from being nominated for the state-wide exhibition, Melvin continued his artistic journey by enrolling in Visual Communication at Sydney’s University of Technology.
Melvin finally transferred to the Billy Blue School of Graphic Arts to complete his Bachelor degree, blossoming under the school’s tutelage. Billy Blue acknowledged Melvin’s creativity, talent and hard work and he received the Outstanding Award – only one of three awards Billy Blue hands out to students each year.
But winning plaudits wasn’t enough for Melvin. He decided to further his opportunities by adding some business acumen to his skills, completing a Masters of Commerce at the University of New South Wales and giving himself the best possible start before launching new fashion label, Song for the Mute.
How did it all start for Song for the Mute?
Melvin: Lyna and I began working on Song for the Mute in 2008 – we started with me as a template, creating pieces that resembled how I felt, how I wanted to look and what I wanted to wear. That ended up becoming the mantra for our label, where we focus less on the practicality of selling in today’s market and more on the purpose and the expression.
Why did you draw that piece? What do you want to say? Those are the kind of questions we want to ask, and ‘Ink’ is an attempt to reinfuse some passion and belief in the expression that makes clothing worth wearing.
What do you hope to accomplish with Song for the Mute? What is the ultimate dream!?
Melvin: We’re just starting out, at the moment we want to concentrate more on the present but in saying that we do have a future goal with Song for the Mute. There are so many challenges faced with the beginning of a new label but we’ve learnt a lot so far! For now we will just keep researching and taking those baby steps to get our label off the ground. Hopefully we can reach out to people who love design as much as we do, offering them and any potential customer quality materials, top notch construction and unique design.
We’re still allowing ourselves to dream a little. Just imagining someone on the street wearing Song for the Mute is an awesome feeling! There’s also the dream of going big overseas, but for now the dream is staying realistic and one of those goals is to start designing womenswear in a few seasons time.
If you could pick someone famous that best represents the signature Song For The Mute Style, who would it be? Alternatively, what famous person/s would you want wearing your label?
Melvin: I don’t think there’s a particular person out there that represents our label. Song for the Mute came from speaking out for people who can’t speak for themselves. There are a lot of people, who through peer pressure, past difficulties or just unfairly high expectations from those around them, are pushed to do things they dislike. Some don’t have a choice at all.
Like our motto says – Listen with your Eyes. Hear with your Gaze. As Seam after Seam, Thread after Thread – unfolds a voice – Song for the Mute is an attempt to allow people a return to expression and personality in their garments.
Who are your favourite fashion designers and what about them inspires you? What else do you draw inspiration from?
Lyna: Alexander McQueen is truly inspirational. The captivating prints, which look like they’re moulded perfectly around the body, give an illusion of movement on its own. His supreme imagination and world-class cutting skills makes him, I believe, one of the most unique and influential designers of our time.
Haute Couture has always fascinated me, along with the influential Japanese designers; Rei Kawakubo’s de-constructed garments and fluid drapery wrap for Comme De Garcons, the fabrication and unusual silhouette of Junya Watanabe, the dark aesthetics and textured fabrics by Takahiro Miyashita for the former label Number (N)ine and the avant-garde tailoring of Yohji Yamamoto, all created an unique aesthetic that’s inspired me when creating pieces for Song of the Mute.
Nature has always fascinated me too. The growth and movement of nature’s roots, veins, cracks and moulds captivates me, and it’s something I replicate in fashion through the organic use of asymmetrical shapes, layering and drapery.
But most influential of all has been my childhood, most of which I spent experiencing many different cultures and ways of life through moving all the time. I’ve been lucky to see lots of ways people live in this world, and the melting pot of all those different cultures is the main product of my design.
Complete the following sentence: Song for the Mute is unique because…
…We are the antithesis of corporate uniformity.