This season I was backstage styling Gyo Yuni Kimchoe‘s first show as the winners of Fashion Scout’s prestigious Merit Award, previous winners include David Koma, Eudon Choi, Agi & Sam and Georgia Hardinge. Gyo Kim and Yuni Choe attended Parsons School of Design in New York before moving to London and studying at Central Saint Martins together.
The collection, called Respect of Life and Nature, explores the idea of the unexpected combination of military and nature and how they both co-exist. The collection of dresses, jackets, trouser and skirts with some fabulous coats is quite androgynous, with detailed oversized pockets and epaulettes combined with feminine frills that give the impression of garlands taking over in floral camouflage prints. There is a playful side to the brand and we can see that in how Yuni and Gyo approach things: the Crocs shoes and boots are decorated in flowers and fake rifles covered in flowers with watering can spouts plus in the gift bag there is a super cute mascot made of paper that can be glued together.
Before the show I had a chance to interview Gyo.
How did you both meet? We met at an art studio in New York City in 2008. I was preparing my portfolio for applying to Parsons and Yuni was learning painting for fun. We have been together since then.
Are you a couple? Yes, we are engaged. I proposed to her before we moved to London. It was in front of Tiffany&Co store on 5th ave, NYC with a small diamond ring from the store.
How do you work together? In general, we do everything together. We share every idea and ask questions to each other all the time. I am more on creative directing and the artistic side and Yuni focuses more on designing commercial and fashionable pieces.
Describe the general process you go through to design and realize a piece of clothing. When we design a collection, the most important thing for us is to create an image or a fantasy that can effect or influence the world positively. So, we spend very long time thinking about ideas and developing them until they have really good meanings and a strong visual quality. Then, we research relevant sources, visual sources for sure but we also love contextual research which I think add more depth to our collection. We combine sources and start drawing rough designs and experimenting with materials. While designing, we don’t stop researching and we often find mistakes and inconsistency from our story. Then, we start over again. Once our mind is clear and the meaning behind the narrative is strongly set, the rest of the process is just same as any other designers. Keep drawing, toiling, experimenting and sampling until we find the answer.
Who influenced you the most in fashion? We are influenced a lot by other designers. There are so many great designers creating amazing collections. If we have to choose only one, I think it is Stella McCartney. We love her eco-friendly approach to fashion without sacrificing anything.
What was the first article of clothing you ever designed? When I was a little child, I loved to design super-hero suits with weird useless functions. Most of them were really ridiculous but I really enjoyed creating fun stuff. The first actual garment I made was a tracksuit in high school. In my final year in high school, I held an interclass football championship. I designed a tracksuit as an award for the top scorer. It was originally a used school tracksuit I reconstructed and hand painted a big dragon on the back.