THE HORROR-GLAMOUR AXIS

“The creation has the soul of the creator.” Juhee Park, a young knitwear designer currently residing and working in France, introduced us to her layered amorphous sprawling creatures that seem like they stepped out of her personal glamorous mythology.

As a young designer, what is your hope for the ever-evolving fashion scene moving forward?

I don’t know if everyone would agree with me, but I bet everyone in the fashion industry could do something against the disastrous effect of fashion on nature. However, the reason why we can’t change a lot, I assume, is the fast-running cycle, which leads to all the causes of toxic work environment and mass production process. 

I hope fashion can also be considered art. Do we really need that many collections every year, and are all the designers satisfied by meeting the schedule of ‘seasons’? Of course, we have to make money but what if designers could create a better collection if it were an artwork, not following trends? It would reduce the amount of wasteful stocks and mass production. Moreover, it would cool down the steamy competitive atmosphere and help young designers to create authentic, creative, and more meaningful collections. Also, it would allow for more time to consider sustainable processes.

What do you think keeps you genuinely excited about fashion and craftsmanship, even with the heavy influence of social media?

Fashion is deeply involved with the human culture and society as a form of performance art. And craftmanship encourages the creation of processual individuality. Craftmanship is always created by mistakes and unexpected coincidences, which I find very fun and enthusiastic, and the creation has the soul of the creator. I think this way is meaningful. 

 

Honestly, I don’t get the relationship between the influence of social media and fashion/craftmanship. Surely, social media is triggering regarding fast fashion and in terms of trends, but on the other hand, it also gives a chance to young designers to present their work very easily. So, if we use it wisely, social media cannot be a big problem.

Have any artists influenced your thinking regarding the philosophical aspects of fashion?

A lot of female surrealist artists such as Leonor Fini, Mere Oppenheim, Penny Slinger. I am always very connected to their voices about being a female artist and, for me, a female designer. In fashion, especially with womenswear, designers create their muses. But I want to make my muses and garments as authentic selves, not reflections of others.   

How does the beauty of nature inspire your past collections?

I find it very beautiful and reassuring to make a nature metaphor out of my collections. Take an indescribable scene in life – which can be considered ‘grotesque’. It gave me a lot of visual sources to create textiles and garments. 

 

For example, one of my projects was about wandering, inspired by dandelion seeds. At that time, I was questioning settling down, choosing a society and a location. Is that possible as an outsider and a non-privileged person? 

I saw dandelion seeds on the street, spreading their fluff, and it looked so beautiful. And I just accepted the value of the wandering self. I focused on making spikey and hairy textiles with knitting techniques.

And for the final collection, I wanted to talk about the oscillation between horror and glamour. About being a woman liberated from social expectation and about the bigger fluidity of the aspect of sex and sexual embodiment in the modern era

My story begins with a film called ‘The Other Side of the Underneath, (1972) which surrealist feminist artist Penny Slinger art-directed. And the film starts with several sentences of an anonymous protagonist: ‘…it has taken a very long while for me to drag my amorphous slug-body out of the mud.’ 

I found this quote resonating with my collection very much by revealing women as grotesque creatures in nature. And I worked on analysing the quote by three points: being amorphous, having a slug body, and, lastly, coming out of the mud.

The reason why I am fond of the concept of ‘amorphous’ is the duality. ‘Amorphous’ explains a disordered chemical formula that is created and destroyed at the same time, such as melting glass or ice. This ambiguous texture also articulates the process of decay. Thus, I linked this disordered crystal to a knitting technique with the image of pleats distressed by water. 

Also, I find the amorphous organization in a woman’s body mystical with infinite accessibility. And I assume that this infinite possibility to reform as a creature provides a fictitious person. And this hybrid vision helps me to explore the creative thinking in knitwear. In particular, ‘amorphous’ is a chemical formula and has a scientific structure. And this transforming structure inspires my origami knitting that I developed for the last project.

 

Through this hybrid vision, knitted origami gives us an impression of a refined shape that is also organic. Paper origami has lightness but a very sharp structure. So I worked on the textile development with various yarn types from nylon to plastic yarn. As the knitting structure is based on tension, to make a rigid shape is such a big challenge. For the last project before the final collection, the Alexander McQueen project, since I worked with the topic of sustainability, I chose a very dry paper-like cotton yarn. But for this project, as I wanted to have the fluid amorphous characteristics, transparency and lightness is the most important – maybe even like ghosts or clouds, but with a rigid structure.

Also, in terms of building a silhouette, I approached this knit as a form of being destroyed, which can be vulnerable but also transformative with paper origami experiment. Specifically, the pleats origami that I developed in the last project was combined with different size of pleats – their sizes are matched with length and width. So, when they are folded together, a deeper three-dimensional structure is constructed. Moreover, I mixed them with contrasting colours so that the graphical effect could be exaggerated with the texture of a slug to achieve the grotesque aesthetic of a wet and slimy creature. I wanted to show the body of a woman through the surface of the fabric and texture. Therefore, I used transparent yarn for origami pleated knit. And to add the flickering effect of a sea slug and the bizarre colour contrast of a butterfly, I added a zig-zag jacquard to the pleats to show the movement of pattern, which can echo the animalistic element.

Finally, the description of being submerged in the mud resonates with me as a stage of inability in a civilized social system. However, if she could overcome the mud, she would have free will and ability to express herself. Finally, ‘amorphous slug body out of the mudcan describe the completed utopia stage for women. From this metaphor, I would like to build my own surreal image of the woman.

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Bio

Juhee Park is a young designer who recently presented her final knitwear design collection at the Institut Français de la Mode. Before IFM, she studied at Central Saint Martins. Currently, Juhee is doing her internship with a high-end knitwear manufacture company in the south of France. 

Juhee aims to pursue progressive womenswear, expressing her individuality. Her surrealistic work always starts from a metaphor containing her identity and femininity. Despite her strong intuitive process regardinh knitwear, Juhee also create textile design with very structured approach.

Credits

Fashion designer / Juhee Park  @poem_at_the_edge

Interview / @khynko

Look of Dandelion Seeds

Photographer / @motokinakatani, assistant @camportekoi

Hair stylist / @natsumiebiko

Make-up artist / @yusakunakahara

And beautiful fairy @chloe_athena_ on my first project @ifmknitwearma

Red Dress photo series

Directed and photographed by @motokinakatani

Amazing mua @yinnl_ and Hair @yihanjen

On glam @maresz_miciula

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