Just a week before their show at Audi Fashion Festival this year, I'm running short interviews with last year's 3 winners of the Audi Star Creation (ASC) fashion design competition, to find out where they are one year on after winning.
Today's Q&A is with S. Korean designer Ko Young Ji whose feminine collection last year stood out especially in contrast with some of the more directional collections of the other participants.
Find out more about the designer, who is launching her own label very soon and reflecting back on the past eventful year of her journey.
(P.S. I'm also giving away tickets for the ASC winners show at AFF, find out more about it on facebook.)
Ko Young Ji, 32, S. Korea:
Due to personal reasons, Ko Young Ji remained in Korea for the duration of her internship, and received mentorship from F J Benjamin remotely.
What was the biggest challenge you have faced?
My biggest challenges have come from preparing for my new clothing label ‘Deuxy’. I had trouble deciding on the concept of my label and the style of clothing other women would like. I want the label to be a balance of wearability, and one that represents who I am as a designer.
Instead of developing and adding on your winning collection last year, you have chosen to create a totally different one ‘La Porte’. Why is that?
I wanted to design a collection that would allow me to express myself and show my identity as a designer, yet create something that would appeal to a wider audience. While ‘Lijin’ was a collection that focused a lot on femininity, I wanted something that was more modern and wearable. That is what you will see in ‘La Porte’.
What was your inspiration and focus on, in this collection?
My capsule collection is entitled 'La Porte', which means ‘The Door’ in French. The collection is a reflection of the time I lived in Paris studying fashion design and tailoring at l’Ecole Supérieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode (ESMOD). My apartment in Paris had a century‐old dark red door which I found exceptionally beautiful. I was so fascinated by the idea of its history that I found myself drawn to all the other Parisian doors as I strolled along the streets. Through these doors, I felt like I could catch a glimpse into the past. I have tried to capture the details and structures of these doors and 19th century French buildings in ‘La Porte’. I’ve focused on using both straight and curved lines to produce voluminous pieces that accentuate a woman’s figure with a modern look. I manipulated silk, knits, polyester, wool and cotton to create a new hybrid material that will introduce different textures to the collection. I also used a variety of colours --‐ pink, violet, cream and ivory – that complement and delicately contrast each other at the same time.
|The designer with the media after her show last year.|
How has your work evolved from what we’ve seen last year?
My capsule collection consists of pieces which I’ve always wanted to create and wear. In designing the garments, I paid particular attention to creating clothes that are more wearable for the average woman. This collection embodies femininity and comfort, while giving allowance for the wearer to exude her own style. This is different from my previous collection which, to me, is not as wearable. The current collection still maintains the feminine aspects of ‘Lijin’, but I’ve improved on it by making it more modern and accessible to the average woman.
As you might have noticed, the fashion industry is quite competitive especially for newcomers like yourself. How are you planning to stand out for the rest of emerging talented designers?
The fashion industry, as you have mentioned, is very intense. However I do enjoy this intensity of the industry and get excited working in such environment. What sets me apart from others would be that I continuously search for new material to bring variety to my designs, and always make it a point to incorporate part of my identity into each collection. Not too long ago, I actually had several customers come up to me to say that my creations perfectly match their styles and that my collection is, in essence, an entire “styling program” in itself. The most basic thing about being a fashion designer is making good clothing. But I feel that a designer’s responsibility is reading the needs of consumers and being able to cater to their requirements. That’s where I think I stand out from the rest --‐ I am able to predict their needs and supply clothing which matches the lifestyles of different customers.
What is the next step for you? Any plans?
I have plans to launch my new label, ‘Deuxy’, this year. In fact, ‘La Porte’ will be the first collection under this label that will go on the racks! ‘Deuxy’ is a women’s wear label that targets women from their early--‐twenties to mid--‐ thirties. It draws on a variety of unusual and colourful fabrics to give a three--‐dimensional feel to the pieces. It is my dream to see the brand to go global within five years.
What is the best advice you’ve been given in the industry and one which you’d pass on to other aspiring designers in this year’s competition?
I will always remember what my professor in Paris told me. He said that the best designers always go the extra mile to correct even the smallest detail in a garment to create a perfect collection. I strongly believe in this and hope to extend the same advice to the 2013 finalists. Utmost attention must be given to creating a perfect piece of clothing. You need to put 100% into every single garment before your label can progress to become one that is associated with high quality, and that you as a designer become known and respected for your work.