GFW 2015: Dahye Jee, Nottingham Trent University

Friday, 03 July 2015

INTERVIEWGraduate Fashion Week 2015 showcased more than 400 universities and over 1,000 promising fashion graduates, with strong talent representing womenswear, menswear, textiles and print fashion designers. Over the past month FashionUnited have been showcasing the very best

of the next generation of fashion designers you need to watch out for, and here is our final interview in the graduate profile series.

Nottingham Trent University always showcases the very best in fashion and South Korean-born Dahye Jee is an exciting new talent who wowed the GFW audience with her two-dimensional paper doll-inspired womenswear collection inspired by happy childhood memories.

Jee’s work has already won her plaudits after she recently scooped the top prize in a competition with Hawes and Curtis, who loved her modern take on 1950s silhouettes. FashionUnited sat down with the promising designer to see where her passion for fashion developed, her plans for the future, as well as the inspiration behind her bold graduate collection.

What made you want a career in fashion?

When I was younger, I used to style my family and friends, fashion magazines and fashion shoots have always inspired me to think of new, creative ideas. I wasn’t as passionate about any other area of work, so I decided to study fashion design. Firstly, I went to fashion college in Korea and I really enjoyed studying fashion design, but 2 years of study was not enough for me, as I felt that I still had a lot more to learn. Therefore I decided to come to the UK to fulfil my passion for fashion.

From the moment I decided to study fashion, I wanted to be a designer who gives happiness to people and want people to be smiling when they see my work and make them feel special wearing my designs. Therefore when people think of my designs, I hope they think of words such as playful, fun, humorous and unique.

Tell us about your graduating collection – what was the inspiration behind it?

The inspiration behind my collection began with stories of memories which everyone forgets. It’s easy to forget the memories of your childhood, living in a busy world. So I turned my mind back to what had inspired me as a child and I came up with the idea of paper dolls which I used to play with when I was young. By looking at my designs, people can remember the precious happy memories of their own childhood.

What are the signature piece/pieces?

The square skirt red checked pinafore skirt with striped top and matching doll and the checked blue and white coat with the hat pocket on the side. These outfits all have a 2D element brought to 3D with hand drawings and print.

Did you have a specific audience in mind when designing your final collection? Who is your target customer?

I became a child ‘Dahye Jee’ when I was working on my collection. I kept thinking and reminding myself of my childhood and drawing inspiration from these memories into my designs. In a rapidly changing world, I want people to forget their busy reality for a while. I want to be a designer who gives a feeling of happiness and makes people smile.

What made you choose to study at Nottingham Trent University?

Nottingham university has other fashion courses such as textiles and fashion accessories; fashion design students can use their resources to expand creative thinking and collaborative opportunities, to try different ways of expressing design ideas.

What do you plan to do now that you've graduated? What are your plans for your career in the future?

As the winner of the Hawes and Curtis competition I will be doing an internship with them from this September. I am also looking for more internship opportunities to get more diverse experiences in the fashion industry, before I return to look for a full time job back home in Korea.

Where do you hope to see yourself/your label in five years time?

After more work experience in different fashion companies, I would like to have my own label in five years’ time, so that I can produce my own creative design ideas without any compromise.

What was your Graduate Fashion Week/catwalk experience like?

It was a really good opportunity to show my work to so many people and I was really proud to be one of the designers chosen to show my collection at graduate fashion week. It was first time for me to see my collection on such a big scale catwalk and it has given me confidence to present my work.

What designers/labels do you most admire? Who would you love to work or collaborate with?

I really like Christopher Kane, Taka Naka and Min Wu. They are all creative and directional designers who give me a lot of inspiration. When I see their work I spend a long time looking at their designs and admiring their creative ideas from print, pattern cutting, materials, interesting processes and use of details.

What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers?

I don’t like to use the word ‘cannot’ in fashion. Too many brands in the fashion industry offer the same ‘look’ to their customers. Aspiring fashion designers should be aware of trends but always offer something different from other brands. So that their customers feel that they are special by wearing a unique design that makes them look individual.

Images: Dahye Jee

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