Beautiful & Modern Men - GQ Korea's 15th anniversary issue

What is the first thing that came to mind when you woke up this morning? Work

What did you have for breakfast? Eggs

Who did you last text or call before you went to bed last night? Could you share briefly what it was about? My assistant, Giulio. It was about Work.

What city are you based in at the moment? Where is home to you? Brooklyn, New York. I’m quite adaptable.

Do you have a favorite spot in this city? What time of the day do you think best represents the place? The Bridges. The view of Manhattan never ceases to amaze me. Especially at Sunset. And our local restaurant, Locanda Vini e Olii, which serves delicious Italian food.

What is your favourite beach and why? Probably one I haven’t been to yet.

Is there a particular hotel or hotel franchise you like and what makes them special to you? The Cap Rocat in Majorca is pretty amazing. It’s so tranquil and understated and I love the landscape there.

What music are you listening to now and what is your recent go to playlist? I tend to listen to other people’s music.

Do you have a favorite writer and is there a specific quote special to you? In Fashion terms - ‘Pink is the Navy Blue of India’, Diana Vreeland. And Cathy Horyn.

What would be your next top 3 holiday destination? Jamaica to see a very good friend, Italy in the summer and somewhere for my Husbands Birthday mid May.

What was the 15 year old you like? I was super into Fashion, Magazines and Parties. It was such an exciting new world for me and it felt like I d found the thing for me. So in that way, I felt lucky.

What are you wearing at the moment and was there a specific reason behind the choice? Blue Jeans and a Navy Blue T shirt. It s generally what I wear at home.

What are 3 words that comes to your mind right now? Find Interviews Tricky

Okay, what about some important keywords or hashtags to you right now? #Vital. That’s my new one.

What is the biggest change you can recollect from now since your first job? The miracle of iPhones.

What are you working on now (this can be the longest answer to the questions!)?  Editorially, I m working on shoots for Fantastic Man, System and Double Magazine.  I’m working with Hussein Chalayan, Uniqlo, Hermes, McQ and Theory amongst other Brands and I love that kind of range. I find it super interesting.

What is the 1 or 2 things that you can’t but would love to push back one week from now – can be anything? A shoot that we have no model for and the Dentist.

When did you find your own personal style and can you describe it in your own words? I think in my early 30’s I discovered I just couldn’t wear certain things anymore. I find that was a key thing growing up, finding a bit of a uniform. That turned out to be Navy Blue for me and generally a bit 50’s, a bit Lesbian. But it’s always been relatively Minimal.

What do you consider as your greatest achievement now and going forward what is your dream come true goal? Getting Married. Staying Married.

Who is your mentor? Who do you respect the most from your industry? Jane How is a good friend and has been a good mentor. I respect Joe Mckenna . And Rachel Elliston, who owns the Agency REP, that represents me. We have been best friends for 23 years.

What is the typical misconceptions about you? That I would have an opinion about what someone is wearing when I meet them.

How did social media like Instagram influence your work or your life in general? And what is your favourite channel (ie. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) at the moment? I like Instagram but I find it very time consuming. I think Social media in general takes up a lot of time, time away from doing things that really matter. But I’m learning and I do enjoy it. I m generally quite private and not so interested in letting everyone know everything.

What is the next new trend you would recommend to our readers? Looking beyond the 20th Century. I m bored of the decades thing.  Wear a Smock or a Tabard. Lol.

Any new discoveries you would like to share? Society Bed Linen. You can never go back.

Any trends that you simply do not understand? I’m really not into Facemasks in Fashion.  They feel so dated to me.

Describe yourself in one sentence? As a editor, you'll know as well, good at under pressure, and happy.

How do you make sure your style does not take over the magazine’s style? They are the same.

As a Fashion Director what is your most important role? My job title recently changed to Senior Contributing something or other. It’s just titles at the end of the day. But I think the most important role of the Fashion Director is to create a strong language for the Magazine’s Fashion.

What made you decide to move to <Fantastic Man>? I was in the right place at the right time. I loved the Magazine and it has been a very good experience for me.

Can you give us a peak preview of the next Issue? Unfortunately not, as it’s still a work in progress. 

Did you always know that you would become a fashion designer or that your name would represent a fashion label? No not at all. My background was in fine art originally – fashion had never been something I had considered doing.

You were doing fine art originally, what makes you driven to the fashion design? Once I was at Central St Martins, there was something about the immediacy and energy of fashion which I was attracted to. 

What was the biggest accomplishment, do you think, now looking back at the journey of your brand? I’m not really somebody who looks back at things in that way, I think you have to keep looking forwards. I think ultimately the biggest achievement is to see people enjoying wearing my clothes. 

What about the biggest change from since when you first started your brand? Well I do have a small team now, which is definitely a change from the beginning. Things are constantly evolving season to season, although we always like to keep the same atmosphere in the studio, it really feels like a team – the balance of personalities is really important. 

What are your thoughts on the latest challenges and questions regarding the existence of fashion week and its timing (the ongoing questions about whether the 6 month ahead of season catwalk shows will work)? Will you act in your own right to meet the demand of audiences wanting to buy your collection now straight after your catwalk show? Everything is changing so rapidly, and of course the industry will evolve – but for now we are happy with our two collections per year. I have always been drawn to the speed of fashion and the energy that gives, but for me personally, and for most brands, I think it will be a gradual evolution rather than overnight.

How do you feel about the strong support for you name as a brand? What are the next steps for you? It really has been quite a surreal experience to see the support for the brand. Like anyone, you often don’t have time to stop and think, but it certainly driven us forwards. Our next steps will be to start introducing a few women’s specific pieces into the collections – and then who knows.

Where do you live? I’ve always lived in London.

I think from a journalist point of view when you start to see a specific element or detail that everyone starts embracing, you know on the street, on the catwalk, on high street, and you can associate that with a specific brand or a designer that’s when you know a super exciting brand is being established. Does it bother you that the fashion industry is ‘inspired’ by your collection? No not really. I think if my collections are provoking conversation and inspiring people, then that can only be a good thing.

In today’s world of fashion, especially in London, I think what’s special is that the outsiders and insiders can co-exist because there is that certain level of respect for each other. As someone who is leading such an influential brand at the moment, who do you respect the most?  There are so many amazing designers that I respect enormously; Rei at Comme des Gargons and Walter van Beirendonck are a couple, but really I think it is interesting to see how different brands all develop, even at such different scales of business.   

And when you first started the brand, what was part of your youth culture? What were the fashion influences then? I grew up in a close family, and have always been interested in the idea of community; this has definitely always had an influence on my collections. As a child I was really interested in making things, but certainly my interest in fashion did not come until much later – my early references were more relating to crafts and art.  

We love how your collection can suit both men and women, the fashion savvy global customers, the street, the influencers and so on. What is the main aesthetics that drives you to design your collection right now? There is still that sense of communality for sure, and with the straps throughout the collection there is a feeling of protection.

As an emerging young designer taking healthy steps up the ladder what do you do to make sure you are both original and innovative? I don’t think being original can ever be something you think about too consciously. We just work through ideas in the studio together, and you then just have to have confidence in those ideas I think.

Tell us about what social media means to you? How did or does social media affect your brand? I was the last of my friends to join social media, but I do think it is a really interesting tool now. It really empowers smaller brands like ours, as it is essentially a platform to project your brand identity for free, whereas previously the only vehicle for this would be have been advertising.

And for your collection, what are some of the remotest or far away locations where your clothes are sold to for example for the AW16 collection? Our collections are sold all over really, from the USA, Europe, Middle East, through to Asia; China, Japan, Korea etc.

Would you consider e-commerce for your brand? Yes definitely; this is something in some way very soon.

Silhouette, volume, shape and more, we see that the physical structures are a very important factor in your design and we can sense a strong style from the East echoing in the clothes, too. Tell us more about this and what draws you to these elements? When we are creating a collection, we always start from a proposition – a point of view, which works in the context of show. At first I think this aesthetic proposition can seem very extreme, but ultimately within each collection there are silhouettes and pieces which are very wearable.

Do you know that you have a loyal following in South Korea. Any words you would like to share with them? Yes happily my collections have been stocked in South Korea for quite a few seasons now, and it is so exciting to hear this feedback. I definitely plan to travel to Asia in the not too distant future, as I find it such a source of inspiration and I would love to have more direct contact with my customers there.

What is the first thing that came to mind when you woke up this morning? Crepe de chine. I’ve been thinking about using it in my summer collection and I’m not sure how it will work in the shapes I’m working on.

What did you have for breakfast? Rice Krispies. Always.

Who did you last text or call before you went to bed last night? Could you share briefly what it was about? I sent my friend Bram a photo of a rediculous Dutch superhero. All windmill head and a gaint clog on a stick. He is from the Netherlands and I thought it was hilarious. He has not replied as yet…..

What city are you based in at the moment? Where is home to you? Right now I am in Paris, but I live between Paris and London. To be honest I don’t know where home is as I feel like I’m always moving.

Do you have a favorite spot in this city? What time of the day do you think best represents the place? I Paris I love walking home by the river in the early evening. I think dusk is a really powerful time. So moody.

What is your favourite beach and why? Morecambe Bay of course! I biggest flattest muddiest beach in England. As you look out over the bay you can see the mountains of The Lake District of in the distance while the bright neon lights and slot machines of a cheap seaside arcade blast away behind you.

Is there a particular hotel or hotel franchise you like and what makes them special to you? Aman Hotels are just too amazing for words. I’ve stayed in the Amantaka in Laos and the Amansara in Cambodia and they were both so increadibly luxurious I never wanted to leave. I’m hoping to visit the Amanpulo in The Philippines as that looks like paradise !

What music are you listening to now and what is your recent go to playlist? I’m in a quite moddy Cletic mood at the moment, so a lot of Clannad…..

Do you have a favorite writer and is there a specific quote special to you? What would be your next top 3 holiday destination? The Philippines, Patagonia, Lapland

What was the 15 year old you like? Younger, hotter, less messed up.

What are you wearing at the moment and was there a specific reason behind the choice? I’m weraring a cashmere collarless shirt, a roll neck tshirt, black jeans and Nike Airs. I think I tried to compentsate for the lack of a shirt collar with a rollneck underneath, which seems kind of counter productive now I think about it….

What are 3 words that comes to your mind right now? Back pain, Lunch, Cupboard

Okay, what about some important keywords or hashtags to you right now? Place, Spirit, Drape, Avatar

What is the biggest change you can recollect from now since your first job? Well my first job in fashion was sitting in a nearly windowless garage filling out spreadsheets and running productions orders. I think every single element of my life is totally different now !

What are you working on now (this can be the longest answer to the questions!)?  I’m sketching and getting my thoughts together for SS17. I want to find the perfect way to continue from last season whilst trying not to repeat myself.
Also thinking about home, the hills of Yorkshire that are special to me. Place is an important part of forming your creative identity. That’s really the question I am trying to answer at the moment. And colours. I’m hitting a colour wall, but I think I might have just had a brake through. 

Can you share with us any small or big work habits you have established over the years? I don’t know that I have any particular habits. Asking questions I guess. Its so important to always ask people about how things are done and trying to understand how and why a process is the way it is. I know that I never stop learning.

What is the 1 or 2 things that you can’t but would love to push back one week from now – can be anything? Putting out the bins and changing my bed sheets.

When did you find your own personal style and can you describe it in your own words? I don’t think my own style has ever been a thing that is set in stone. Some times it evolves slowly, other times it changes dramatically. I’ve just been through a big style shift and stopped wearing bright colour and am living in a world of navy, black and white. I feel a lot chicer.

What do you consider as your greatest achievement now and going forward what is your dream come true goal? Last season’s presentation was a huge deal to me. It was the first time I had ever shown my clothes on my own in ly own space and people were coming just to see what I had to offer. I was so moved and so happy. If I can keep that feeling after every presentation or show that would be a goal indeed !

Who is your mentor? Who do you respect the most from your industry? Kim Jones. He is the most amazing and supportive person and I have learnt so much from him in so many ways.

What is the typical misconceptions about you? I think people can find my arrogant or boastful, when really I am quite shy and can be very self-concious.

Is there a person or thing that influences you the most? One influence doesn’t work for me. I need to put lots of different things into my brain to get a good result.

What are some trends that you simply do not understand? I’m a bit wary of trends. I don’t find them to be very useful to my process so honestly I don’t pay so much attention.

How did social media like Instagram influence your work or your life in general? And what is your favourite channel (ie. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) at the moment? I use Intagram more than anything else. Visual communication always works best for me I think and am following so really interesting people that spark lots of ideas.

Textiles is pretty much the starting point for fashion and trend. What are the details, trends, silhouettes you are intuitively drawn to at the moment? I’m very much repsonding to shine and drape at the moment.

I think brand consultants are hugely important to a fashion house because you are one of the team of experts that are essential in building a collection. How does your role as a textiles consultant for impact or differ from your role when running your own brand? Really the process is different every time I do it. That sounds very confusing I know ! The way I work for other people differs depending on their needs. Some companies need more in the way of pure textiles, say a new range of suiting, some have what they need but want to add something extraordinary, perhaps a fabric woven with strands of mother of pearl or a light up LED dress. Others need something broader to help them create their own visual language.
All of these skills come into play when I am working only own collection to a lesser or greater extenet.

Your collection delicately details and describes your design aesthetics beautifully. The technical skills required to form your designs with different textiles must be quite complicated. Tell us a bit about the process and what has been the most challenging work so far? Honestly it is quite intuitive. Over thinking can be the death of design, so I really let me instincts be my guide.
Of course there has to be some guiding out line with an eye to commerciality, but for my own collection I don’t want to feel to constrained by these considerations. I want to feel it is more of a pure expression of the way I see things.

Folk art is a strong influence in your work. Is there a specific style you’re drawn to and why? Oh I couldn’t choose one ! My house is full of pieces from Indonesia, Cambodia, Bolivia, America, Russia… I’m a real visual magpie and I love piling everything together. 
If I had to choose a favourite right at this moment it might be Chinese but it might be German. Or English.

Is there a specific period, movement, person or theme that influenced you in establishing your brand ethos? No I don’t think so. I don’t like to be too attached to central ideas. But a common thread through out my work is championing the artisan and the importance of workmanship in luxury clothing. What I do is luxury. You hear a lot of yound designer saying this without really understanding what it means. I am interested in luxury in the traditional sense and how to move that forward in a fresh and interesting way and bringing true international luxury to Britain, where I think it is sadly missing!

What is the first thing that came to mind when you woke up this morning? Hoping I hadn’t overslept.

What did you have for breakfast? Lots of tea

Who did you last text or call before you went to bed last night? Could you share briefly what it was about? My boyfriend; it was our anniversary, I told him I loved him. And that I’d bought him American Vogue like he asked for.

What city are you based in at the moment? Where is home to you? Right now, I’m in New York for fashion week. Home is London.

Do you have a favorite spot in this city? What time of the day do you think best represents the place? I have only lived in London for a decade, so I still get blown away a little when I cross any bridges and see the city laid out. It’s amazing at midday, on a crisp, clear winter day.

What is your favourite beach and why? I’ve never been much of a beach person, but there’s one on the North coast of devon called Croyde where I spent most of my childhood that is still close to my heart.

What music are you listening to now and what is your recent go to playlist? I’m very into Alison Moyet; the spring/summer 2016 Burberry show was a dream.

Do you have a favorite writer and is there a specific quote special to you? Truman Capote, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Gustave Flaubert, Emile Zola. My favorite quote is from W. Somerset Maugham: “People ask you for criticism, but they only want praise.”

What would be your next top 3 holiday destination? A small village outside of Florence where I spent my first holiday in seven years last summer, Palm Springs, Sophia Neophitou’s house in Kefalonia, Greece

What was the 15 year old you like? As fashion-obsessed as I am today.

What are you wearing at the moment and was there a specific reason behind the choice? Layers of Prada knitwear. It’s minus six in NYC.

What are 3 words that comes to your mind right now? “Victoria Beckham Preview”. It’s the next thing on my itinerary.

Okay, what about some important keywords or hashtags to you right now? The most important word to me always is “honesty”.

What is the biggest change you can recollect from now since your first job? The ubiquity of information is very different. It’s now so easy to find out about fashion news, and there’s a hunger for it. I think it has lead to some very unpleasant and counterproductive rumour-mongering though.

What are you working on now (this can be the longest answer to the questions!)?  At the moment, I’m working on two books which I can’t really speak a great deal about until they’re published. But they’ll be quite different - although both are fashion-focussed. Besides that? We’re knee-deep in the womenswear shows, so I am writing an insane amount everyday for the Independent newspaper and online.

Can you share with us any small or big work habits you have established over the years? I leave everything until the last possible moment. It’s a big problem…

When did you find your own personal style and can you describe it in your own words? My style is pragmatic: it usually focussed on what I can find on the floor of my bedroom.

What do you consider as your greatest achievement now and going forward what is your dream come true goal? I am very proud of the work I have done on the Independent and also my first season writing for Vogue Runway. Receiving the inaugural Editorial Intelligence Award for Fashion Commentator of The Year was an amazing experience: I was nominated next to some wonderful journalists and it was incredible to receive. I generally feel very lucky to be doing what I love.

Who is your mentor? Who do you respect the most from your industry? I can call Sarah Mower both a colleague and a friend, and I respect her and her opinion enormously. She’s one of the few writers whose opinion frequently makes me reconsider my own.

What is the typical misconceptions about you? That I’m nasty: I’m not. That I’m organized: I’m definitely not.

Is there a person or thing that influences you the most? Fashion influences me the most. I love and admire fashion enormously.

How did social media like Instagram influence your work or your life in general? And what is your favourite channel (ie. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) at the moment? I try not to let them influence my work: I think I should focus on the clothes and on designer’s messages, not on tertiary distractions.

What is the next new trend you would recommend to our readers? I’m interested in the boundaries between menswear and womenswear breaking down.

What will be the next big thing? A return to the hyper-formal.

Any new discoveries you would like to share? Anything new becomes old far too quickly.

Any trends that you simply do not understand? Flared trousers.

Describe yourself in one sentence? Made In England.

On the catwalk or backstage, do you know straight away what the focus of your catwalk review will be? Sometimes. Sometimes it takes forever to get the one sentence. But generally something clicks during the course of the show and you realize what a designer is trying to communicate and, most importantly, if they succeeded or not. That’s what the critique must really be about.

And for opinion columns you write regularly as well as for special reports in other titles, what is your typical preparation process like? Do you refer to a lot of references as well? I try not to reference directly when writing. I may read, then let it gestate and see how everything sits together.

How do you keep up with everything that happens in the fashion industry? And when do you decide to talk about it? I think it’s difficult not to keep up with the fashion industry: you get so many emails and notifications every day about everything going on. The important thing is to filter, block out the white noise, try and find your story amongst everything else people have written. That’s why opinion is so important: we all know what’s going on, but it’s important to analyze and hypothesize. I don’t think theres enough of that; or at least not enough intelligently-done.

You’ve written some amazing interview features and there’s something about your column that stays with the readers for a long time. How do you make sure to get the interviewee to tell you everything? I think interviewees appreciate someone who shares their passion. Fashion designers are incredibly passionate people - I think that’s why, when I’ve negatively reviewed shows, some have reacted so violently.

What will be the feature of journalism and do you think the business will continue? Will advertising for example be taken over by something else? How can print media survive? I think print media will always survive - which is an interesting comment to make, given that The Independent has just gone digital-only. Newspapers are about immediacy, which digital can undoubtedly deliver faster and better. But magazines are about delivering stunning visuals and creating an object people will covet and want to keep. I think that’s why print will survive: because it does that better than digital. It’s about the survival of the fittest.

These interviews have been featured in <GQ> Korea's March 2016 Issue.