Fashion media student at Lasalle College of The Arts, Yuan Kun

Peep Yuan Kun’s Instagram page and the first thing you’ll notice is that the 23-year-old Lasalle College of The Arts undergraduate has a distinct colour palette when it comes to things that make it to her feed: black, white and little else. That, and the fact that she is – ironically – a little camera shy. In place of ubiquitous selfies is a carefully curated edit of Yuan – often with her face covered – dressed in a selection of equally elusive designers like Ann Demeulemeester and Haider Ackermann who are known for their propensity for monochrome and a dark aesthetic. (FYI, Yuan’s recent final-year project referenced the Dutch painter Hieronymous Bosch).

We first met Yuan on the set of one of our photoshoots where she was freelancing as a styling assistant and realised that her affinity for pared-back, androgynous looks seems to be spurred on mostly by her interests outside of fashion. “I am into a range of things – from photography, reading and music to movies, art and travelling,” says Yuan who is currently working on setting up an artisanal accessories design venture with two friends. She maintains that she doesn’t have any style icons but cites American singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith and artist, designer, and literature buff Jacob Hertz as inspirations in other respects. “I love Patti Smith’s androgynous look but I’m more into her words, books and poetic style,” she reveals.

The China-born Yuan (she moved here when she was 12-years-old) also hones her eye with frequent travel – something she made a point to do three to four times a year prior to the pandemic. Among some of her favourite destinations for fashion, art and design include Osaka, New York and London. “Osaka has all types of fashion stores and in London, I look out for interior design and architecture,” says Yuan who counts Osaka’s vintage store La Grande Lue a must-visit for any Yohji Yamamoto fan. As for whether she’ll end up pursuing fashion, art or all of the above after school, Yuan is keeping her options open: “I’m still discovering more at this point.”

Yuan sporting a rare Yohji Yamamoto leather jacket find in Osaka-based vintage store, La Grande Lue.

Describe your style.

“I would say it’s androgynous. I tend to prefer men’s pieces over ones that are feminine, but I do try to experiment with something different every now and then. I wear clothes that make me feel confident about myself.”

Monochrome is your M.O. How do you find vibrancy in your style?

Most of my clothes are black and white but I try to switch things up with particular colours like grey, olive and red. I keep a maximum of two colours on my body at all times and I add texture by layering them or wearing different materials. I tend to gravitate towards accessories and shoes for statement pieces.”

You’ve got a knack for styling menswear and womenswear pieces together. How do you balance the two?

“This is something that I don’t overthink. I just go with how I’m feeling on the day. A big thing for me is having confidence in what I’m wearing.”

Yuan’s go-to accessories include silver and tin pieces from brands like Tiffany & Co., Saint Laurent, Vivienne Westwood, and Nagae+.

What are some of your favourite labels right now?

“Haider Ackermann and Saint Laurent.”

You love a good pair of black boots. What are some of your go-to shoe labels?

“My favourite pair of boots is one from Ann Demeulemeester.  It has accompanied me everywhere, especially during my travels. I tend to gravitate towards footwear by Saint Laurent and Converse’s Chuck 70s.”

What are some of your favourite fashion stores, here or abroad?

La Grande Lue is heaven for Yohji lovers; the owner is very friendly and has very rare pieces in the shop. Others would be Wacko Maria in Tokyo, Anchoret in Hong Kong and Totokaelo and the Rick Owens store in New York.”

Do your travels inspire your wardrobe at all?

“They more so evoke memories for me. Each item brings me back to a time and place.”

Yuan’s favourite pair of boots is this pair from Ann Demeulemeester.

What are some of your favourite fashion Instagram accounts?

“I’m loving StyleZeitgeist, founded by editor Eugene Rabkin. He isn’t afraid to make bold and honest observations – sometimes even a little politically incorrect – about the fashion industry and its designers. It’s really entertaining and informative at the same time.”

A recent purchase that you’re obsessed with?

“I bought a pair of Margiela boots recently. I’m obsessed with leather and it’s my first ever knee-high pair.”

Name something you wouldn’t be caught dead in.

“Candy-coloured clothing.”

Some of Yuan’s style obsessions at the minute include these tailored Haider Ackermann trousers and Margiela leather boots.

If we were to bump into you in school, we’d most likely catch you in…

“An all-black, comfy outfit.”

While assisting on a shoot we’re most likely to catch you in…

“An oversized T-shirt, baggy black pants and my Converse Chuck 70s.”