Interview with fashion designer Elise Kim

Introducing: Elise Kim
Edited by: Liselotte Fleur

The 25 year old Elise Kim was born in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. At the age of 16 she left her family to go to Toronto, Canada to finish high school there. After high school, she moved to Milan, Italy to study at the Istituto Marangoni. She finished the first year there and decided to move to Amsterdam to continue at Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI). During her study at AMFI, she also studied at Central Saint Martins, London for half a year. At this moment, Elise Kim is a fashion and textiles designer based in Amsterdam.

How did you get interested in becoming a fashion designer?
When I was 10 years old, I used to draw everyday and collect beautiful materials. Soon after that I made clothes for my aunts. I’ve always had a special love for materials but I didn’t know textiles designers existed at that time.

How do you get inspiration for your clothes?
I get inspiration from everywhere. It could be from my memories, interesting people, movies, books but most of the time from architecture.

How would you describe your style of fashion?
My style is graphic, modern, edgy but still feminine and chic.

What goes through your mind when you design a collection?
When I design a collection, first I carefully do my research from a concept. I normally work with concepts or stories. Each season, my studio is always full of inspiring mood images, which I try to create for that season. Many images of shapes, materials, colours, the muse of the collection, hair and make up, etc. I try to express my ideas through as many images as possible so that my team could get inspired every time they enter the studio. The right design and the quality of materials are very important to me, as they are a part of me. Every Elise Kim collection always includes some of my own designed textiles. I use several different techniques in my collections such as weaving, knitting, laser cutting, embroidery, fabric manipulating, and digital prints. Besides, I also think about music, models, photoshoots etc.

What was your latest collection and what was the concept behind the collection?
My latest collection is Spring Summer 2012 and it is called “Reflection of an emotional place”. I was in Vietnam when I started designing this collection. I visited my grandparents’ place and got inspired by my old toys when I was a little girl. The toys are boxes of fabrics, which my grandparents still keep at their apartment. It was very emotional for me to see all the tiny pieces of fabrics that I played many years ago. Suddenly all the memories came back. 

What kind of woman do you imagine wearing your clothing?
A strong woman who isn’t afraid to show to others who she is and she knows what she wants. She is tough but feminine and she loves quality designs and materials.

How do you see yourself in the ‘fashion world’?
I see myself at this moment still making 2 collections a year. My designs are somewhere in between artistic and commercial with lots of attention for materials and quality. Leather is one of my favourite materials to work with; leather will always be in my collection.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
In November this year, I will present my AW11 and SS12 at the beautiful gallery Joseph in Paris. In January 2012, you can expect my new AW12 collection, which hopefully will be shown at Amsterdam Fashion Week. For this collection I am not only designing clothes, but also a small collection of bags. In a few years I hope I could bring Elise Kim abroad and perhaps have an Elise Kim store.

Paper collection: 
Photographer: Amber Isabel
Hair & Make up: Anita Wagner
Model: Martine @ Freshmm

AW11: 
Photographer: Thomas Vording
Model: Julia @ Max models ; Stefanie @ Modelution

SS12:
Photographer: Joost van der Neut
Photographer assistant: Ravyn Godwin
Styling: Sanne van Gestel @ Eric Elenbaas
Hair: Ilona De Leeuw @ Angelique Hoorn
Makeup: Anita Wagner
Model: Macha @ Freshmm

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