A mega-star designer in her native Korea, Son Jung Wan first burst on the U.S. Fashion scene in the Fall of 2011 when she debuted her collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York. Immensely successful throughout Asia, the designer went on to open a flagship store in Manhattan and dress many of Hollywood's favorite A-listers. Despite all of these achievements, Son Jung Wan has always remained utterly gracious, making her a favorite of ours for all of these years.
Here is the original interview Style Wylde published on the eve of Son Jung Wan's first New York Show:
SW: How did you first become interested in fashion? Have you always known you would go into design as a career?
SJW: When I was a child, my mom used to take me and my sisters to the custom-made shop for clothing. I'd always asked the shop manager to change every detail to precisely the way I wanted the clothing to look. My mother had incredible taste but I had my own aesthetic from a very young age. I always knew exactly what I wanted. It was a fun to make things more beautiful but I did not always want to be a designer. My first passion was art and painting. I guess this is still the reason my collections are often inspired by the art world.
SW: Soon after launching your business you received a Golden Needle Award, one of Korea's highest honors in fashion. How did this early accolade influence your growth as a designer?
SJW: People started to pay attention to me and I tried not to disappoint them. I've always had a very specific direction I wanted to take with my designs. Each collection represents a journey through my life. I know that women want to feel beautiful and glamorous. So every step of my career has been tailored to what real women want to wear throughout their lives.
SW: Over the years you have enjoyed a lot of success in the Korean market, what inspired you to bring your collection to Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week this season?
SJW: I love New York and the energy it brings everyday no matter the weather or time of year. I am so happy sitting in a cafe with my sisters and friends in the West Village, Nolita, or Upper East Side just watching everyone in their crazy lives. It inspires many of the details in my collection, this "parade of social art" is incredible. New York is mecca of fashion, art, and chic living.
SW: In what ways do you expect the experience in New York to differ from showing in Seoul? Will there be extra nerves, or do you think all Fashion Weeks are similar from the designer prospective?
SJW: We've had such a successful business in Asia for so many years. I am excited about expanding to the US market. I hope the women in New York and all other cities appreciate the beautiful details and workmanship that goes into making our clothes. I am so excited that it is probably what keeps me up at night. So much attention is paid to the shows that it will be fun to watch all the media excitement.
SW: You’ve said that your Fall 2011 collection is inspired by the “luxurious look of the 1970’s”. Does this era hold any special meaning for you? How did you come to this time period as an inspiration?
SJW: The 70's was emotional period for me and I admired the dramatic mode of the 70's. It was such an explosive time for creative minds. The artists, the musicians, and the actors that impacted from that era were such a force. Many are still doing incredible things with their lives through their art and charitable work.
SW: What aspects of 70’s design can we expect to see you your runway? (i.e. silhouettes, fabrics, prints?)
SJW: I am going to show you dramatic volume and soft and sexy silhouettes and I used tough tweed, washing leather, sliced fur, and handmade knit.
SW: Who is your ultimate 1970’s icon of style?
SJW: Sensational style of Farrah Fawcett in 1979. Everything she did seemed so glamorous and beautiful. I would also say we are drawing inspiration from Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall, and "The Halstonettes" who wore the Halston collection so fabulously.
SW: In the modern world, who is the Fall 2011 Son Jung girl? Who do you picture wearing the collection? (i.e. urban girls who love luxury, low-key bohemian hipsters?)
SJW: Alexa Chung is an ideal girl and I picture city chic girls who love luxury and arts. But, I think there are many girls who could be considered our ideal girl such as Emma Stone, Moon Bloodgood, Melissa George, Blake Lively, and Grace Park! The chic city girl who is comfortable in a crowded room and just as happy on the beach or ski slopes.
SW: What is next for you after New York?
SJW: Paris! Ahhhh, the City of Lights... we are already thinking about a Paris show. We have many interested stores around the world contacting us so we are trying to expand carefully and keep our customers happy. Paris, London, Moscow, Sao Paolo, and Doha have been five cities where our clients and stores have shown incredible excitement.
All images: S. Whittle for Style Wylde.