She was the breakout name from the graduating class of 2020 at Central Saint Martins – the London-based South Korean designer’s eponymous label has since been coveted by celebrities ranging from Ariana Grande to Cardi B, with its handmade, more-or-more take on ultra-glamorous old-world couture.
Sohee Park burst into the fashion scene after her graduation show in 2020 at Central Saint Martins.
Now, Sohee Park is moving onto the next stage of her burgeoning fashion empire: this month, she launches a ready-to-wear line under Net-A-Porter’s The Vanguard initiative that supports and mentors emerging talents, marking the first time that her ornate confections are commercially sold. Ahead, the 26-year-old tells us about her vision of how we should dress and consume fashion now.
The exclusive Miss Sohee collection on Net-a-Porter marks the first time designer Sohee Park is translating her couture work into ready-to-wear.
You’ve spoken extensively about your admiration for couture. What is couture’s value that cannot be expressed through other mediums?
“I’ve always been in love with couture because it’s not seasonal and is instead such a timeless medium. If you look at Christian Dior’s early works, they’re still so beautiful today. This timeless aspect is something that this generation could learn more about for fashion to be sustainable. Everything today is fast-paced and people tend to consume everything – not just fashion – so quickly. I think the idea of consuming luxury with such speed almost defeats the idea of what luxury is. I want to create timeless clothing and for my work to last.”
You shot to fame on the strength of your couture pieces. How do you translate your love for couture into the ready-to-wear arena?
“Although I love haute couture and the craftsmanship required to create it, it comes at a hefty price. I would like for my designs to be more accessible and I thought that it would be amazing to launch ready-to- wear, while staying true to my own label’s ethos of being timeless and high-quality. All the pieces in my collection under Net-A-Porter’s The Vanguard programme (think Y2K-charged, party-ready bustiers and mini dresses, and cropped top-and-miniskirt combis) are hand-embellished and I’ve used the same (recycled and deadstock) fabrics that we normally use in my couture collections.”
The collection has all the hallmarks of Miss Sohee – think the signature effervescent colours, couture silhouettes and old-world siren styling.
How would you say Net-A-Porter’s The Vanguard platform has helped you to develop Miss Sohee?
“The Vanguard programme has enabled us to do our first-ever large-scale production and that is a big step for us as a brand. This will be our first commercial launch and I am very excited to do so exclusively with Net-A-Porter. It is very exciting to see our couture pieces created in a more accessible way so that more people can enjoy it.”
Your designs have always felt like they’re driven by very strong and personal narratives. Have you ever worried about how you will translate that as your label gets bigger?
“Incorporating my personal narrative into my designs is so vital to me and my brand. When I was in Milan earlier this year (showing the latest couture collection that was supported by Dolce & Gabbana), I remember Stefano (Gabbana) telling me that my work is different from that of other designers because I use them to tell stories that are derived from my personal experiences and culture. (That collection, for example, was inspired by traditional Korean folk art – also called minhwa – and recreated motifs of nature as rich embroideries on dramatic gowns.) It was one of the most memorable piece of advice I’ve ever been given.”
Fueled by her passion for illustration and beadwork handcraft, the London-based label is also known for its sculptural headpieces.
Social media has made it easier for designers to gain visibility and success, compared with print media. How much of this is true in your experience?
“Fashion is forever-changing. Social media is great because it gives everyone a fair opportunity to get recognised and build brand awareness. For my debut collection in 2020, I was not able to hold a physical show due to the pandemic, but could still present my work on social media (she promptly went viral). At the same time, social media is full of new content every day with new designers coming up all the time… It’s a great platform for sharing one’s work, but it is still very important to have a unique identity as a designer.”
What advice do you have for other emerging designers?
“I think from my experience, building a strong identity and creating designs true to yourself is very important for a new designer. And of course, commitment and hard work should always follow.”
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity