Photographs by Jus Vun. Interview by Appy Norapoompipat.
The title for the shoot"Hana to Ryu" means Flowers and Dragons which describes Nana's personality well; delicate and exotic like a flower, and fierce and graceful like a dragon. You can see elements of this in the photos with the facade of some buildings showing dragon motifs and the beautiful Vivienne Tam dresses that Nana was wearing covered with dragon and flower designs.
When I first worked with Nana for a fashion editorial, I felt it was harder to connect on a personal level due to the presence of the creative team. It was a no brainer to work with her again but this time a little more intimately to create a more palpable mood. She basically did the styling, make-up and hair all by herself.
I've always wanted to work with her from the first moment I saw her in a fashion editorial. She has a unique style and exhumes an energy which is both enigmatic and dynamic.
We shot around "Neon City", the Kabukicho Red Light District of Shinjuku, Tokyo. A few locations of note is the flower shop with the lone owner who has been serving the patrons of the host and hostess clubs around that area for over 20 years and a tiny hole-in-the-wall bar on a hidden alleyway in Kabukicho who is served by a TG owner. None of the locations were actually planned and we happen to just come across them while walking aimlessly around the neighborhood.
There's something to enjoy about a spontaneous shoot with a play-it-by-the-ear narrative. I used to shoot documentary street photos; exploring the crevasses of unfamiliar neighborhoods, observing people and finding anecdotes in their daily lives. Contrary to being discreet, having another person in front of the lens adds a different dynamic as they are actually interacting with these surroundings.
Photos and Interview by Jus Vun.
JV: Your parents worked as pattern designers and you studied at a fashion school in Seoul. Tell us about your roots in fashion and the struggles and successes so far in your young career.
JK: My father has been a pattern designer for over 40 years so I imagine if it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t be in fashion. My hometown is far from Seoul and I am always busy so I don’t have much time to see my parents. However, they are thrilled when actresses or singers are wearing my collection on TV and that makes me happy, too. I would say having my own label at 22 years old would be my biggest success so far.
JV: The theme of your collections are usually cute and flirtatious, extroverted and sporty. They seem perfect for the assertive urban girl. What kind of lifestyle does a Fleamadonna girl live?
JK: A city girl, when she grows up, she lives out her life like Carrie Bradshaw.
JV: What do you do in your down time?
JK: I enjoy staying at home with my boyfriend. We watch movies and cook dinner together.
JV: Inspiration for you has come from just about everywhere. From Japanese subculture, Disney cartoons and musicians such as Madonna and Katy Perry. What was the inspiration for your SS15 collection?
JK: I was inspired from last holiday, a trip to Thailand. I enjoyed the beach, good music and the atmosphere there.
JV: How do you think you’ve evolved as a designer since your debut collection? How would you like yourself to improve as a designer?
JK: Nothing has changed since I started my collection until now. I think I am progressing a little slowly but I’m always trying to improve myself. I am happy that my collection is more in demand. On top of that, I can get better fabric, I now have my own sampling studio and also a good crew around me.
JV: Take us through your process of gathering ideas and finding inspiration.
JK: I get the feeling from travelling in other cities, or from my friends. They are all different styles that make me feel so much inspiration.
JV: Do you see Korean fashion becoming as international as K-Pop has over the past few years? What needs to be done for that to happen?
JK: Many Korean young designer are representing own collections in Paris and London now. There’s a good vibe going on. Also K-Pop is so famous in the world and that’s a good influence for Korean designers, too.
JV: There are some young, up and coming Korean fashion designers. Which designers do you like? Also, what designer clothes do you personally wear?
JK: I love the shoe brand Reike-nen. She has so much talent.
JV: Name some celebrities that made you most proud by wearing your designs and which celebrities you would love to see them on?
JK: I was so surprised when I saw Pink! wearing my collection on a TV show. I would love to see Madonna wearing my collection in future.
JV: What are you most proud of as a South Korean national and how would you like to see your country change?
JK: South Koreans are very hard working and open-minded in accepting new things.
JV: Where do you see your brand in the future? Would you prefer to show in Paris, New York, London. Why?
JK: Everywhere. Now I am focusing on other countries but I will also like to do more in my own city of Seoul. Also my goal is runway in Paris.
JV: Advice for young fashion designers?
JK: Find work in the fashion industry as young as possible then decide what’s the best career path for you, whether it is a designer, stylist or merchandiser, and don’t look back.