Moon Choi’s Designs Are Tailored for the Human Body

The up-and-coming fashion designer’s FW19 collection continues to disregard gender and its boundaries.

Korean New York-based fashion designer Moon Choi has a signature affinity for tailoring and exploring the balance between femininity and masculinity. After graduating from Parsons School of Design, Choi received sponsorships from Jason Wu Fabric, 3.1 Phillip Lim Leather and was chosen as a semi-finalist for the VFILES Academy Prize, as well as a finalist of CFDA+ 2016 Design Graduates.

Moon Choi’s FW19 presentation at NYFW was constructed on the concepts of movement, silhouettes, and layers. Her decision to use floated plastic for the set allowed intentional lines and glimpses of transparency. Guests were shown an empty circulation viewing, until models began their walk behind the wall. Then, only blurred movement was visible; not details, but simple silhouettes to represent how life is multi-layered and all about experience in motion.

Following the presentation, we discussed with the emerging designer her sources of inspiration, androgynous fashion and her vision into the future of her designs.

How does your cultural background influence your work?

As a designer, I think my background is really important. I’m always trying to convey messages for my collections like my origins, where I grew up, and what I learned before. All these things express who I am.

Were you aware that you had a different mindset ever since you were back in Korea, or did NYC play a part in forming your approach?

Before I moved my office to Korea, I actually launched my own label in New York first. It was a bit hard to manage my business here [in New York] because I’m Korean and I was at Parsons with a student visa so there were some issues. New York’s definitely one of the biggest fashion markets in the fashion industry so I think that’s really important for showcasing my collection.

What are some of the benefits of working as a fashion designer in NYC and Seoul respectively?

I think New York and Korea have diverse ranges of material. In Korea, we’re very close with China so it’s easier to source materials in Korea. I can get Japanese fabrics easily, also any hardware. It’s hard for emerging brands with limited budgets, but in Korea it’s a bit easier than here. There are more reasonable prices to work with for manufacturing companies and fabrication.

Any consequences of being in either city?

Because I have one body, it’s hard to live in two different cities at the same moment. When I’m in Korea, I still need to work with people in New York City so I always wake up during midnight due to time differences. Some of my friends who do manufacturing in New York say it’s really hard to find manufacturing companies who can do really small amounts of the production. Also, the price is really high. In Korea, I can manage all the things because I can communicate with them. So I think there are more benefits than consequences.

What made you decide to focus on the concept of androgynous fashion?

As a designer, I believe clothing is not defined by gender. It really depends on the taste of customers. Even men can wear dresses in today’s fashion.

With your background in product and graphic design, how do you view the intersection between different art forms including paintings, photography, design, and fashion?

I think successful fashion designers showcase the whole vision of a brand, not only a piece of clothing. In terms of the branding, my graphic and design background was helpful to build up what I wanted to convey through my brand. Even like the packaging, logo, signature color, and website design. I always try to elevate my presentation and I think it’s really important to make the audience feel the atmosphere in our presentations, not only the clothing.

You mentioned your website’s design. Does your website’s journal reveal your direct sources of inspiration?

The reason why I put a journal page on my website was to share my lifestyle and where I get inspiration from with my clients. There are many talented people, even some artists who are not really famous. All the designers get inspiration from their daily lives, which is the same for me. I wanted to share these beautiful pieces, not only clothing. I think the successful clothing brand shares a lifestyle. The reason why people buy clothing from big and high-end brands is because they want a lifestyle from the clothing.

Other than more tangible pieces of inspiration, do you have any other inspiration and influences that you draw from?

When I start my collections, I always write some stories. I really focus on storytelling rather than just a bunch of images. All those images and artwork are also good inspiration but I always try to write stories inspired from things around me. This time, it’s all about movement and time. Life is not a single layer; it’s all about experience of movement and emotions. I write down these kinds of stories and start my collection.

How does the concept of duality in your newest collection reflect your exploration of balance between femininity and masculinity?

I always try to break down the boundary between femininity and masculinity and admire androgynous fashion. After a few seasons, I kind of figured, actually I don’t need to define if it’s feminine or masculine, and just focus on the shape and the movement of the human body. Not just if it’s a woman’s body or a man’s body, but human emotion, and human movement. Under this kind of broad notion of human body, from a third person’s point of view, sometimes it’s hard to say if it belongs to a woman or man. It’s all just about movement and emotion, which is what I focused on in this collection.

You shared a belief that clothing can influence a person’s identity and behavior. What kinds of identities do your clothing offer?

My clothing, especially for FW19, has very comfortable structures especially jersey and knit. It’s comfortable but still confident. Sometimes, fashion people make their bodies fit the beautiful clothing, but I think the clothing and human body should be perfectly matched. For FW19, I really focused on how the garments flow with our body and emotions. That’s really important. Sometimes, a lot of beautiful pieces don’t feel like mine and are uncomfortable. But a strong identity and comfortable clothing make confidence, which is really important. Every single person has a different identity and personality. Clothing should support that part.

How would you describe your personal style, either independent from or in relation to your brand?

Definitely tailoring. Tailoring has always been central to my design methodology. Tailoring is a very interesting skill. There’s very limited construction that you can approach.

Your past collection featured jewelry. Do you see your brand expanding to accessories?

My big dream for my brand is launching accessories like shoes, handbags, and jewelry. But, for FW19, it’s my third presentation and my brand is pretty new so I think I need some time to establish it. After people can really feel the signature pieces of clothing from Moon Choi, I definitely want to launch a shoes line and a handbag line. I already launched my jewelry line and had a few buyers who purchased them so I want to keep moving forward.

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