Q&A: Bonkuk Koo
1. How did you get your start with designing? I want to be honest about my story. The year was 1999, and I felt out of place all the time and I did not know I was going to be a designer. Actually, I wanted to be a Pharmacist like my mother, but then I found out that people can study fashion in college...which was a surprise to me. It seemed pretty fun to study fashion because I liked wearing nice clothes and styling just like the rest of my friends. That is how I stepped into the world of fashion. Many things have happened to me in the past 13 years, but now I believe fashion is something I want to do for the rest of my life.
2. What inspires you to create? Textile techniques, shades of colors, surfaces of objects and volumes of movement. However, there is something more than that. Having non-stop conversations with Jason Kim (my friend from FIT and a great helping hand in P.R and overall management of my collection) has become sort of a third designer who I can turn to for anything from trend analysis to subtle story telling that's needed in delivering the targeted imagery or mood onto the runway and lookbook.
3. What do you love about working with textiles? I love developing new techniques by using fabric... that's what I spend most of my time on when beginning a new collection, and also what I feel most comfortable with. Every designer wants to create something new, that is the fundamental worth of this kind of job. When I come up with a new technique of fabric, I feel like I know exactly where I should go about designing. It is one of the most exciting steps for me.
4. Do you have a favorite piece you have made? In this season there are two coats (Goldenrod cashmere with Crimson wool silk mohair with machine embroidery, Black cashmere with black dutch satin origami weaving). The two coats have the same silhouette but each one has a different way of expression.The goldenrod and crimson coat has color expression. I used to avoid yellow and red color mix. However, when I put together the goldenrod and crimson, it gave me much more of a bright feeling which is sweet and little bit of sour, if I had to compare to taste. The end result was a charming mix of color with a soft edge. My woman wants to wear that kind of basic silhouette. The black color exaggerates the silhouette of the coat. I added unexpected details at the sleeve and coat hem. It makes it different from other, considering that she doesn’t want to show anything in a direct manner or wearing detail on the face.
5. Describe your style aesthetic. I used to think the women I designed for were very strict style-wise. Because of this, I tried to keep my silhouettes basic and gave my fabric 3- dimensional illusion. But recently, I realized my old way confines me and my women in a cage. How sad and foolish that I restrict myself in limited design! After I changed my mind, Magically, I got so much more excited about new possibilities in my design. I cannot wait to start my 14’ S/S collection! Next season you will see more colors with silhouettes as well as unique fabric techniques, which will be always be my fundamental aesthetic.
6. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? “Dream as if you will live forever, Live as if you will die today.” (James Dean)
7. What is the one fashion item you think is a “must-have” for every woman? Shoes and bags are “must must have." Another must-have is an all-purpose scarf. I started a new scarf line from this season and I am planning more various styles for the upcoming seasons. Regardless of any seasonal needs scarves are the most useful style tool you can imagine. Scarves can spice up any look by adding more texture and color. Scarves can easily go with office looks, daytime looks and indoor/outdoor evening gowns.
8. Any exciting designing plans for 2013? I have some collaborations with accessories brands coming up. Last season I had a collaboration with Slone (an accessory company out of Korea) We are planning to work with Slone in the next season too. We are also working on an upcoming collaboration with an eyewear company.
To learn more about Bonkuk Koo visit their facebook.