Is Yoon Ahn the coolest jewellery designer on the planet? by Slow Waves

 

Designing for Kanye, partying with Bella Hadid and now rocking it at Dior Homme — Tom Ellen meets a style maverick on a mission

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'Everything that used to be underground is mainstream,’ declares Yoon Ahn, the Korean-American jewellery designer beloved by supermodels and hip-hop megastars.

‘Times change, so high fashion has to accept it or get left behind.’ She should know. A decade back, Ahn was just a jobbing graphic designer who spent her downtime making experimental trinkets for friends. Today, that ‘passion project’ has exploded into one of the planet’s hippest streetwear brands, AMBUSH, a favourite of rappers such as A$AP Rocky, Skepta and Kanye West.

 

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Now she’s in Paris to embark on her latest challenge: heading up jewellery design for Dior Homme, the fashion house’s menswear label. She was announced in the role last month by her friend — and the label’s new creative director — Kim Jones, hence our interview venue, a precious stone’s throw from Dior HQ in Paris.

‘It’s really an honour,’ she says of the Dior appointment. ‘Kim has talked about us working together since his Louis Vuitton days, but honestly, I never thought I could come into an old couture house and make things, because I came out of nowhere. I had no training and no one behind me. In that sense, I always felt like an outsider.’ That may well be but on catwalks right now, it’s the outsiders who are taking control.

 

 

From the ascendance of Virgil Abloh — another untrained disruptor turned world-dominating trendsetter — to Vuitton collaborating with Supreme, Ahn’s Dior Homme gig feels like the latest groundswell in a high fashion revolution. When we meet it’s 7pm but her body clock is approaching 2am. She’s come straight to the 8th arrondissement bar after flying in from Tokyo, looking about as un jetlagged as it is possible to look: platinum blonde hair slicked straight back like a Thin White Duke-era Bowie, pale pink T-shirt framed by a black leather jacket and ‘fanny pack’. ‘We belong to a generation of designers who grew up on skate culture and street clothes in the 1990s and 2000s, so naturally it gets manifested in our creations,’ she says. The designer’s label, called AMBUSH and named for her desire to take people by surprise, was very much born from this mentality. Created in the late Noughties with her husband, Verbal, one of Japan’s biggest rappers, the pair began making chains and rings purely because Verbal couldn’t find any decent jewellery to blow his royalty cheques on. Neither had any formal fashion schooling: just bags of enthusiasm and a thirst for experimentation.

 

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‘We just wanted to prove we could do s*** no one else was doing,’ she grins, sparkling at the memory of it. ‘We went all out, making crazy, outrageous things. Fifteen-centimetre [wide] Cuban chains... A baseball cap out of bronze.’ Was it actually wearable? ‘Was it wearable...?’ She ponders this over a sip of Coke. ‘Well, yeah, if it fit your head. We didn’t make lots of different sizes...’ These eye-catching (and potentially neck-damaging) items aside, things really caught fire when they unveiled their Roy Lichtenstein-inspired ‘POW!’ rings at the turn of last decade. ‘We really just made them for friends,’ Ahn shrugs, but since Verbal had recently signed to Def Jam Records in the US, those friends now included the likes of Pharrell and Big Sean.

Suddenly, the planet’s most style-savvy rappers who were already enthusiastically tapping in to the Tokyo street-wear scene now had an authentic, exciting Japanese jewellery brand to provide their accessories. ‘The rappers really are the rock stars of today,’ Ahn points out. ‘You had movie stars and rock stars setting trends in the past, but it’s rappers now. That’s why streetwear is bigger than ever, and it’s not fading out.

 

 

Yoon was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1970-something. ‘You can just say “Seventies”,’ she smiles. ‘I think it’s okay to keep certain things quiet...’ That vague air of mystery continues to pervade as we discuss her childhood. Her father served in the US military and when I enquire about his role she purses her pillar-box red lips and chuckles: ‘You know, I should ask him.’ Army life saw the family uprooted constantly and by the time they settled in Seattle when Ahn was a teenager, she had already lived in Korea, Hawaii and California. You can still hear these locations jostling for position in her accent. Seattle was where her ‘outsider’ mentality took shape, and despite holding US citizenship she still describes herself as an ‘alien’.

At 18, she went to Boston to study graphic design where she met Verbal — then just a rap-loving marketing major. The two began dating and when Verbal suggested relocating to his hometown of Tokyo after graduation, Ahn jumped at the chance. ‘The club scene in Tokyo at that time was off the chain,’ she recalls. ‘Hip-hop, electro... Everyone was peacocking so you wore things to stand out. This was before Instagram, so if you wanted to see what a scene was like, you had to go to the clubs. My hair was a different colour every few weeks, I was customising clothes with studs, making jewellery from found objects. Mixing things up.’ Today Ahn’s inexhaustible work ethic allows for far less after-hours ‘peacocking’. Rare downtime is spent at home in Tokyo with Verbal and their two cats, or indulging a burgeoning Korean gangster film obsession (‘You can learn a lot from Mafia movies...’).

 

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That said, the mix-and-match ideology she learned in the clubs is still on display: her just-off-the-plane ensemble includes a silver Rolex, custom diamond earrings and AMBUSH ball-chain choker. The idea of exploring fresh territory is clearly still what powers the designer’s engine at AMBUSH (‘We’re making down jackets for the first time,’ she gushes, excitedly).

As our time together draws to a close, though, I wonder: how will her playful, explosive spirit fit in at Dior? She nudges her suitcase, which contains the first ideas she’ll be presenting to Jones tomorrow, ahead of her collection’s debut at Paris Men’s Fashion Week in June. ‘Dior’s a heritage brand,’ she explains, ‘so you have to keep the DNA going, but refine it.

 

 

I have to find the right balance to complement what they do. But the thing you realise is... there’s nothing new under the sun. Everything has been done. So, then, what is our role as creators?’ As the sun sinks into the Seine, she finishes her Coke and answers her own question for me: ‘To reintroduce things. To make people see them in a whole new light.’

 

 

 

Article by Tom Ellen for the Evening Standard

Connor Magazine / Alex Mullins by Slow Waves

 
 ALEM MULLINS Denim Funnel Jacket

ALEM MULLINS Denim Funnel Jacket

 

Photographer: Sam Wong @samwongphoto_
Stylist: Nat Pluch @natpluch
Model: Christopher James White @citizensomething

WMAG: Y/Project by Slow Waves

 

Y/Project, the men’s and women’s label designed by Glenn Martens, is proudly avant-garde: Unisex tracksuits have wires in the seams to give arms and legs exaggerated, painterly volume; jeans can be turned into short-shorts; fabulous thigh-high boots are made in collaboration with that decidedly unfabulous early-aughts mainstay Uggs. But just because some of the clothes are challenging doesn’t mean they’re forbidding. Y/Project is an affectionate endeavor, and one dedicated to inclusion.

 

Martens stresses that point at his overstuffed 10th arrondissement atelier-office, which is bursting with bolts of fabric, piles of patterns, and racks of clothes that threaten to crowd out his growing team. (Martens won last year’s ANDAM prize, which came with 250,000 euros, just at the right time: A new space is coming soon.) It’s the month between men’s and women’s fashion weeks, and everyone is working nights and weekends. “Stephanie D’heygere, who does our belts and jewelry, is a good friend from school, and Emilie Meldem, who does our embroidery, is my old flatmate,” Martens says. “We schedule meetings after six so we can shift into drinks and dinner and leave work behind.” Ursina Gysi, the brand’s stylist, pops in as Martens is in midsentence. He teases her for taking cabs home from the dive bar down the road from the office—their de facto executive lounge—even though she lives around the corner. “You get drunk so easily!” he cracks.

 

Martens grew up in the straitlaced Belgian town of Bruges, earned a degree in interior design, and eventually turned to fashion, hoping to continue his studies in “something creative.” When he interviewed at the famed Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, “I didn’t even know how to pronounce ‘Margiela,’ ” he admits, referring to the school’s most famous alumnus. The learning curve was steep, but Martens found inspiration in his peers. “Everybody in that school was superflamboyant. Crazy creatures! No one was the norm. I loved it.”

 

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After graduation, Martens worked for the designer Bruno Pieters and consulted for companies like Hugo Boss. In 2012, he put out a minimalist line under his own name, but running an independent label from his tiny apartment burned him out. Martens was happy to take a full-time job when Y/Project hired him the following year, after the company’s founding designer, Yohann Serfaty, passed away from cancer. Martens was soon offered the top post, and he swiftly transformed the label, which had specialized in leather men’s wear, by artfully remaking everyday items like polo shirts, tracksuits, and jeans.

 

A third of Y/Project’s men’s and women’s collections are made up of the same pieces. Though forward-thinking, this gender-fluid approach was also born out of practicality. When Martens decided to expand into women’s wear, “we had no money, nor time,” he recalls. “So a lot of the ‘women’s wear’ was just men’s clothes styled differently. It was a necessity, and then I decided to make a statement out of it.”

 

Last year, Martens traveled to Bruges with Lajeunie and Gysi to photograph his friends and family—all ages and shapes—wearing Y/Project, setting a highly personal and constantly evolving template for the brand’s visual identity. “The only way to translate in an honest way all of the references that Glenn loves was to go back to his roots,” Lajeunie says. The results ranged from naturalistic street scenes starring childhood pals to Vermeer-style compositions featuring Martens’s grandparents. More recently, the series has grown to include staffers and friends, like their “den mother,” Frédérique Sebag. As if creating a document for posterity, the guerrilla-style pictures are stamped with the subjects’ names and locations. In them, everyone wears Y/Project fabulously but offhandedly, proud members of Martens’s expanding community of crazy creatures.

 

 

Full article on WMagazine HERE

Tim Walker and Molly Goddard Launch Book Collaboration by Slow Waves

 

“Patty” spans Goddard’s archive of work, dating back to her debut 2012 collection.

 

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LONDON, United Kingdom — Fashion photographer Tim Walker has partnered with London-born designer Molly Goddard on a collaborative photo book titled “Patty.” The book, which was styled by Molly’s sister Alice and art directed by former British Vogue creative director Jaime Perlman, looks at Goddard’s archive, dating back to her debut 2012 collection.

Pages printed with new images of models, friends and family members wearing Goddard’s signature smocked tulle dresses, elasticated-waist tops and ruffled a-line skirts feature in this tome. “We used the clothes to enhance aspects of one’s personality to show who they are,” the designer tells BoF. “Some people are covered in dresses and have the confidence to do that, while others wear their own clothes and hold the brand’s clothes. It was all very free flowing.”

Having graduated from Central Saint Martins with a BA in fashion knitwear in 2012, followed by a MA in 2014, during which she interned with John Galliano and Meadham Kirchhoff, Goddard quickly gained traction for her traditional hand-craft techniques such as hand pleating, smocking and crocheting, as well as for her charming set-designed presentations early on in her career.

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Goddard’s vision — distinctive and dreamy, much like Walker’s — captivated the imagination of the fashion world as well as celebrities like Rihanna, Zendaya and Agyness Deyn, who have all worn her designs.

The designer won the British Emerging Talent award at the 2016 Fashion Awards and was a 2017 LVMH Prize finalist. This month, she was also announced the winner of the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund, granting her the top prize of £200,000 (about $272,000) and a year-long mentoring scheme.

Goddard’s win seals an impressive year for the designer, who has never relied on outside investment. The launch of the book marks a symbolic next step for Goddard, as she looks to grow her business where sales are expected to exceed £1 million ($1.35 million) by the end of the year.

 

 

Article by Christopher Morency for Business Of Fashion

 

Power Moves | Yoon Joins Dior Homme by Slow Waves

 

Yoon Ahn joins Dior Homme as its jewellery designer

 

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Dior Homme has tapped Ambush designer Yoon Ahn as its new jewellery designer.

The appointment comes on the heels of Kim Jones’ appointment as the brand’s artistic director. Kim Jones, who exited his role as men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton in January, is set to succeed Van Assche.

"I am deeply honoured to join the house of Dior, a symbol of the ultimate elegance,” said Jones. “I would like to warmly thank Bernard Arnault and Pietro Beccari for their trust in giving me this incredible opportunity. I am committed to create a modern and innovative male silhouette built upon the unique legacy of the house.”

Ahn's designs will debut with Jones’ first collection for the house, which will show during Paris Men’s Fashion Week in June.

 

AMBUSH's Fall 2018 After-Party by Slow Waves

 

Ambush Pulls Out All the Stops for Tokyo’s Biggest Party

 

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What separates the standard Fashion Week party from a true rager? It’s all about creativity. Last night at Ambush’s blowout bash in celebration of the brand’s Fall 2018 collection, guests were treated to dinner, a show, and an epic night out set to a ’90s soundtrack, all inside the famed Tokyo Tower.

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Hooking up with Ghetto Gastro for a culinary collaboration that featured corn bread with yule crème fraîche and fried chicken wrapped in coco bread, Yoon and Verbal won the hearts of the fashion crowd via their stomachs. With every attendee busy Instagram-ing the clever Amazon Prime boxes filled with food, the dinner party was guaranteed to make an impact on social media, but even those who didn’t chow down were in for a treat.

 

Getting the chance to first view the brand’s NoBo collection, a grunge-influenced lineup informed by Yoon’s Seattle childhood, and then DJ sets by No Vacancy Inn and Spaghetti Boys, the well-dressed partygoers who filled the two rooms enjoyed the best of all worlds. In the midst of shows and appointments, the night offered a chance to party down in the company of stars, or just dance into the wee hours, all of which provided the week with a welcome jolt of energy.

 

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Text by Janelle Okwodu

Paris Vogue: Trend Alert by Slow Waves

 
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"Over the past seasons, the lighter has become a plaything for designers’ imagination and creativity all over the world. Here, it is rendered in a pendant you can attach to your bag or even to your necklace for a bold jewellery statement."

 

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