PM Co-Founder Jaewha Choi sits down for a tête-à-tête with Greedilous' Younhee Park - Korea's most dynamic designer
Translated from Korean by Celine Moon
1. Your clothes and personality both have the same characteristics – dynamism, energy, color, and glamor – what has been your journey as a designer and how have you managed to so successfully reflect your personality in your clothes?
Designing clothes is what I do best. I have been working as a national brand designer in Korea for the last fifteen years, and this is when I was able to build the foundation for my designing.
I was lucky to work at national brands that focused on the designers and get acquainted with talented designers and colleagues. However somewhere along the way, I realized what I intended to express through my designs was confined by the boundaries of well-established brands. Such restrictions made me want to launch a brand of my own, and dynamic print is the method I chose to convey the identity of my label. Every season, I create new prints that reflect what I think, what I see, who I meet, and my personal style. I do not go through an extremely conscious or scientific approach to come up with the prints. For instance, for the 2015 SS prints, which you will soon see in stores, the ocean inspired me. I randomly looked at pictures of beaches just because one day I really wanted to go on a beach trip. Among the images I found were some sea plants that really caught my eye. And then the other day, I was at a seafood restaurant and saw shellfish. These images, all together, sort of overlapped and inspire the beautiful silhouettes of SS15. That was how I came up with this season's prints. I soon have to decide on the theme for next year's FW collection and I think I'm going to focus on the charm of the ocean. I'm probably going to work on how the ocean can sometimes be really calm and deep, which seems very appropriate for winter.
2. You seem to love the play on numbers, with 14 and 23 showing up surreptitiously in your clothes this season. What is the significance of these numbers on your label Greedilous?
I never really planned on applying numbers on my designs, but the numbers 14 and 23 have stories. 14 is simply from the year 2014. 2014 seems banal right now, but I think if we see this number in ten or twenty years, the number will remind us of 'back then' and give a real good vintage impression.
23 is the age when I decided to become a fashion designer. The number makes me look back to when it all started, when I had the strongest confidence that I could change the world with my designs, my passion. 23 is usually when a lot of the young generation start their jobs after graduating college, and up until then most of what we do is pretty much decided for us. When you turn 23, you start making major decisions on career and that really gets you to think about life in general. I wanted to recall the dream and passion we all have when we are 23.
3. You have traveled the world – which is the one city besides Seoul that you feel equally at home in?
NEW YORK! It is absolutely New York, without a question. Even before I had my own label, I used to visit New York and Paris at least once or twice a year - I think it's only natural for people working in fashion to feel at home in those two cities. Of course I love Paris, but the city felt too tranquil for me. Paris has heritage and history and it likes to strengthen its traditions. New York, on the other hand, has a sense of freshness. The city constantly recreates the new from the old. The city is like lemonade - it's got the coolness, it's got the sparkles. Or at least that's how I picture it. But maybe that's just because I've never lived there. (Chuckles)
4.With Porte Mode, you are entering the US retail market for the first time – what do you hope American women take away from your collection?
Honestly speaking, Korea is not the strongest fashion nation per se. But I do believe that Korea is slowly building its foundation for fashion, elevating to a global level with talented, unique minds.
It would be very exciting to see American customers support Korean designers and fashion brands through the lens of Greedilous. Of course, I do not think that creating a story of a brand and communicating with customers is something that can happen over night. What I'm trying to accomplish here is the faith customers have for the brand Greedilous. I believe Greedilous is a brand of originality and uniqueness, and those are the qualities that will attract the customers of the brand and will eventually contribute to building up the brand image.
Because I've been working as a designer for national brands for over ten years, I know which clothes can be a go-to for customers. I mainly focus on the silhouettes of clothes, especially for women, because the lines and the fitting should be able to show off the beauty of female body. Ultimately, I hope that through Porte Mode, American customers will be able to see my efforts and support my brand.
5. You were recently nominated by the International Woolmark Organization for the 2014-15 prize – in your opinion, how well represented is Korean fashion internationally?
All aspects of Korean culture, including music, dramas, and movies, not to mention fashion, are now displayed on a global stage. I think such a trend is good for the Korean fashion industry. Though the industry is currently still young, it has more potential to explore and develop. A lot of the Korean students who study abroad are contributing a lot to the global cultural exchange. The founders of Porte Mode are a prime example of that. As a fashion designer who has just started to be part of the global market, I feel responsible to be good enough so that more Korean designers can continue to become a part of the global fashion scene.
6. What is the best and worst thing about being a fashion designer?
The best thing: not every designer has his or her own sense of style, but I believe my designs do a good job in conveying my uniqueness in style. Being able to express and share that through my collections is the best thing about being a fashion designer.
The worst: Perhaps the fact that I have to always be stylish. I can't even sleep in random, shabby pajamas. A designer must always see and wear stylish, beautiful clothes and have a lifestyle that is stylish to be able to create quality designs. So I am kind of obsessed with always being stylish.
7. What is the one piece that best reflects Greedilous’ style aesthetic completely?
The Number Moto & The Number Sweatshirts
8. Who is the “Greedilous” woman?
I would say "myself". I wanted to bring my potential to the highest through the brand Greedilous. The name means being greedy for what I have in me.
9. Who are some other, international designers you admire?
My permanent muse is Coco Chanel. I have endless admiration and respect for her. Everything about her, from her womanly dignity and her sexual inner charms, is projected through her designs and I think that's an incredible talent.
10. What are your some of your favorite pieces on Porte Mode this season (besides your own)?
I am a fan of designs that really show the designer's originality and philosophy with clear-cut fits.
The Placida Peplum Top by Pankaj & Nidhi & The Leather Appliqué Dress by IKAI