November 29, 2011

An Interview with Jennifer Chun

Jennifer Chun made her New York Fashion Week debut with her Spring 2012 collection.

Her designs are beautifully tailored, and strike the just the right balance of polished and effortless.

Born in South Korea and raised in Ohio, Jennifer Chun attended Pratt Institute and then worked for Michael Kors, Derek Lam, and Brian Reyes before launching her own line in 2009.

Jennifer Chun talks about her designs, the inspiration behind her spring collection, and what it's really like to work for some of the top American fashion houses.

YS: How would you describe your designs?

Jennifer Chun: I would describe it as casual with an element of polish. I like a structured piece mixed with feminine elements and utilitarian details.

YS: What’s the best thing about designing for your own label?

Jennifer Chun: The best thing about designing my own line is seeing your concept develop and then the positive reaction you receive from it.

YS: What was on your mind while designing the spring collection? Any concepts or themes uniting the collection?

Jennifer Chun: The inspiration came from the iconic Yves Saint Laurent, Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise photo at the opening of the Rive Gauche store in London in 1969. The photo shows a ready-to-wear, casual element to the safari/utilitarian concept that I relate to.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Chun

YS: Do you wear the clothes that you design? How do you like to style/wear the pieces you’ve designed?

Jennifer Chun: I do wear some pieces. I never leave without an outerwear piece and its always, a blazer, jacket or vest. I love layering in a way so it can make a dress or top a little casual and structured.

YS: What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your own line?

Jennifer Chun: The biggest lesson I have learned since starting my own line is to stay true to my vision and not to compromise quality or my aesthetic.

YS: Before launching your namesake label, you worked for Michael Kors, Derek Lam and Brian Reyes. How did your experiences at these design houses shape who you are as a designer?

Jennifer Chun: Michael Kors knows who he is as a brand and who his client is which is important to understand. Derek Lam is a great mentor and I learned from him how important experience balanced with creativity can really help you in this industry.

While I was working with Brian Reyes it showed me how much work is involved in starting your own line. All of this has made me feel incredibly fortunate!

YS: You made your New York Fashion Week debut at the Spring/Summer 2012 Gen Art’s Fresh Faces in Fashion runway show. Gen Art highlights emerging designers; Gen Art had a hand in the success of Zac Posen, Rodarte and Phillip Lim. How did you feel when you showed your collection for the first time at NYFW? And, what was it like to be selected as a talented emerging designer by Gen Art?

Jennifer Chun: Gen Art contacted me and gave me a great opportunity to present during fashion week. We showed at the Manhattan Center. I remember reading about Gen Art as a student at Pratt and hoping that I would be able to participate after I graduated. This was really exciting for me, and such an honor to be a part of it!

YS: You’re a New York-based designer. Do you draw inspiration from New York? From your travels?

Jennifer Chun: Living in New York is one of the best places to live as a designer, but for me it is about being inspired by everything around me, and incorporating it into my aesthetic. Traveling really is the most inspirational and exciting. It gives you this new perspective on lifestyle, colors, etc but again it’s about being able to relate it to my line.

YS: There’s a strong menswear influence apparent in your looks, yet your designs are distinctly feminine at the same time. How do strike that balance between masculinity and femininity in your designs?

Jennifer Chun: I was influenced by wearing my father’s clothing and mixing it with my mothers growing up. This meant shrinking my father’s sweaters or shirts and wearing it with my mother’s skirts or jackets. I think its important for me not to be too literal and being a female designer there will be a natural feminine approach to my designs. This balance is very important to me when I design a line. You described my look perfectly!

YS: Who do you see wearing your clothes?

Jennifer Chun: The woman I design for is smart and intuitive and loves to mix and match so that she’s not too put together. She loves to remain casual but never underdressed. I think Keira Knightley or Natalia Vodianova are beautiful without being too overdone.

YS: What’s next for your label?

Jennifer Chun: I am now working on Fall 2012!

1 comment: