Georgina Evans: You grew up in in South Korea, what drew you to New York?
GE: You were originally destined to study mathematics and science, why did you switch to fashion?
JM: I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was young, but my parents wanted me to be a doctor. I seemed to forget my dream before attending Parsons, with no energy to live actively. I thought I am an energetic person, what will make me active and happy to work? It was fashion and I wanted to learn about it again. So, I prepared portfolios and English to go to Parsons and I made it. It was the biggest and best choice in my life.
GE: Who do you design your clothes for? Is there a particular customer you want to cater to?
JM: I want to design my clothes for people who are unique and have a strong identity / personality. I want to make my clothes to be attractive to people who are smart, modern and stylish. I think clothes are the most effective medium to express an individual's identity including their thought, past, present and future. I want to put their identity in the clothes and make them enjoy and be told by others that they are ahead of others.
GE: Your design aesthetic is about looking at things from alternative perspectives, can you talk me through your design and idea process?
JM: My collection The Lonely Crowd is a portrait of people in modern society who undergo some degree of social anxiety by always being conscious of other people around them. Under this sense of 'being watched', each individual person has a difficulty with fully revealing or expressing themselves in a crowd. In severe cases, some people feel they are under surveillance, which clearly exists. The result is disconnection, distancing or hiding themselves from others. But, connection and communication with others is too important neglect in order to live as a member of society. People live with this tension and feel extreme loneliness and emotional pain. We see this phenomenon via social media. Even though they may be connected by excessive access to media, they feel more isolated and lose their sense of their identity. Overall my colours are neutral and calm, but some pops of color show an outburst of emotion. I used 'Fisheye' and 'magnifying' effects to give the experience of being under surveillance across silhouette development. On the pants, I placed the back pockets on the front to give a distorted sense of reality. Transparent fabrics show the empty emotion and feeling of being seen. I broke down some of garment details to represent the hurt and loss of identity. Some garment details were re-positioned for example the pocket is on the cuffs, the cuffs are on the pants etc. My surveillance eyewear is sponsored by Safilo and includes a bar code to map identity.
GE: Tell me about the making of The Lonely Crowd, how did the process begin?
JM: It is hard to gain the sympathy about the story when I present it with just speech. So, I decided to make the fashion film with deep concept to show my emotional theme and how my collection came from.
GE: What inspired the film’s aesthetic?
JM: Overall, my mood board was a dark and restricted atmosphere, an empty and lonely feeling. I started the film aesthetic with my mood board and my story, focusing on the high tension in this city's social anxiety.
GE: How did you react to fashion film as a medium?
JM: I thought the film was needed to present my abstract concept. That way viewers understand my concept and where my collection comes from. I think it is a communicator between my concept, my collection and the public.
GE: There is repeated eye/sunglasses/security camera imagery throughout the film, can you tell me about these motifs?
JM: My concept came from all about the sense of being watched, being under surveillance and being conscious of others. The emotional things like a sense of being watched in a crowd. I wanted to emphasise this emotion and mood, so that I put eyewear (inspired by surveillance camera) and images of security cameras repeatedly.
GE: What has been your best moment or memory from Parsons?
JM: My best memory from Parsons is when I was on the stage for the Parsons Benefit 2017 Show. I believed that wherever or whenever I started, if I earnestly progress with passion steadily, I can finally reach my goal. I was proud of myself when I walked on the stage as a designer, determined to build the next step of my life again.
GE: What are your next steps after graduation?
JM: I'm back in Korea and am going to make my own brand here with my concept, The Lonely Crowd. I want my collection to be more ready-to-wear than my thesis collection and develop with the same theme, but more strong and stylish. After making my own brand in Korea, I want to go back to New York with my brand someday in the future.