Korean menswear designer Wooyoungmi, responsible for single-handedly moulding the modern Korean man’s sartorial aesthetic, set her sights on Europe in 2003 and has not looked back since. Her eponymous Paris collection, aimed at sharing her vision of the perfect gentleman with the world, is both an understated and artisanal approach to tailoring; her seemingly simple and clean designs are in fact of such complexity that students in clothing deconstructing workshops at Parsons weep with both admiration and frustration when they set upon unstitching a pair of her trousers. Her autumn/winter collection, inspired by the exaggeration of silent film, is a tactile opus; the show, set against a live performance of an American brass band twenty musicians strong, showed felt bowtie-bibs, elegant cotton shirting and coats sporting large lapels made of a distressed knit reminiscent of fur. Madame Woo revisited Chaplin-inspired silhouettes, toyed with their proportions and created an atmosphere of serviceable sophistication in the Grande Salle of Le Grand Hotel Incontinental. Dazed Digital spoke with Wooyoungmi on the evening of her show regarding her visions of modernity, her innate intuition for clothing and the canons of her creative process.
Dazed Digital: And when you first began studying design in Seoul, did you already have an aesthetic that you felt quite strongly about?
Wooyoungmi: Design runs in my family. It’s in my blood.
DD: In 1988 you began your casualwear label Solid Homme. What was your first intention for the brand?
Wooyoungmi: When I first started menswear, there wasn’t much business in Korea around it. In 1988 the Olympics were held in Seoul and that changed everything.
DD: What was it exactly? There was a different feeling?
Wooyoungmi: Korea modernised. After that, when I as twenty-nine, I decided that I wanted to open my own store.
DD: What was it that eventually pushed you to make an eponymous label?
Wooyoungmi: I launched the Paris collection because I knew it wasn’t all about creating commercial products – it was about showing my vision and my inspiration to the public. I wanted to do these things under my name.
DD: And with the boutique in Paris, it was said that you stripped the space back to its purest base. And in some way, people say that is what you’re doing with your clothing – that you are rejecting the contemporary and reinventing it.
Wooyoungmi: I think that as a woman, I am able to make menswear and keep the purest and cleanest thing about it.
DD: You don’t seem to over-intellectualise your designs.
Wooyoungmi: I would design clothing and see them on a man and understand that it looked beautiful. That was all I needed.
DD: What is it about menswear that means so much to you?
Wooyoungmi: I like to think about the ideal man – I live and design for him.