So, some of you guys might remember a few months ago I did a post about Janet Lee Kim. Well, I’ve been looking for a guinea pig to do my first interview on and I hooked up with her over the net and in a email ping pong, we conducted an interview.
Me: The CFDA had it’s first Town Hall meeting recently and one of the issues discussed was New York Fashion Week and it’s validity in the new ever evolving fashion industry? Do you have views on the matter? Are you a fan of the fashion show or are do you think it’s kind of a vintage institution?
JLK: Fashion isn’t just about selling clothes – it’s about selling people an image, an idea. As such, a fashion show isn’t just models strutting down a runway – it’s become akin to a theatrical production and indeed with certain designers, like Galliano, the shows do rival such productions. If you’ve ever been to a show like a Dior couture show, you know that there’s nothing like the excitement of seeing these gorgeous tall models in crazy hair and makeup storming down, loud music blasting, lights flashing, and the most exquisite clothes sparkling before your eyes. You cannot compare that to viewing tiny digital images on your computer screen. So yes, I am a fan of fashion shows, but I think there are some things about them that need to change in order to adapt to the changes resulting from technology.
Firstly, most people don’t have access to those kinds of shows, but because of the Internet, there are many more people who want this sort of access than there were a decade ago. So it was only a matter of time before we got to where we are now, where people post photos seconds after a show. Secondly, there are so many different designers out there that buyers and editors can really only attend a small percentage of shows. Finally, the Internet has democratized the industry a bit so instead of only following the lead of buyers or editors at a handful of magazines, we see ordinary people blogging and gaining influence over the public in their own right.
As a result, I think that designers can no longer rely solely on fashion shows to market their clothes, but must tap into other means, such as online social networking, like Twitter, and creating an online presence, like a website.
Me: So I know that you attended Harvard University , one of the schools that I actually started an application to, and graduated from there but have gone on to pursue fashion. Do you think that your Harvard education was beneficial in the industry you chose to pursue and do you face any preconceived notions of “over conceptualization” when people see your work?
JLK: I think there are benefits and drawbacks, like anything. You don’t get the connections and training you might get at a school like Parsons, but you’re also not competing with a lot of other people who want to do the same thing as you. For instance, I was able to do my internship at Dior in Paris because of one of my professors at Harvard, which would have been harder if I were at a design school because so many people want that kind of internship. I don’t think anyone thinks I overconceptualize my work, but I think it’s a little tougher to be taken seriously as a designer.
Me: Can you explain your lines of inspiration and how they affect your design and final garments?
JLK: I’m really excited about the craft of fashion and so rather than specific inspirations, I like to play around with different techniques or ideas. When I look at clothes, different clothes make me feel a certain way, and when it strikes me, I try to emulate it.
Me: Are there any words that you keep in your head when you design no matter what you’re designing for and if so why do you choose these words?
JLK: I am inspired by clothes where there is a tension between delicateness and strength – something that is painfully beautiful. I aspire to create garments that stir up a visceral reaction when you see them.
Me: I know you’ve worked with some of the big players in the industry and attended the Chamber Syndicale, like Alexis Mabille, but I want to know do you have any idols in the industry right now?
JLK: I have a few – Nicolas Ghesquiere over at Balenciaga, Christopher Kane, and the Mulleavy sisters at Rodarte. Their work is so inspiring.
Me: If you could work with anyone dead or alive who would it be?
JLK: Maybe the aforementioned designers or Balenciaga himself.
Me: What would be your 30 second second point for getting people to wear, buy, or even consider Graey?
JLK: I’m terrible at selling my own clothes. I think you see them and either you love them or you don’t. I will say that I surprise myself by how flattering they are on different body types.