FEATURE ー THE EVOLUTION OF REJINA PYO
Creative director, designer and burgeoning fashion magnate, Rejina Pyo has burnt her name into the minds of fashion greats with her abstract and elegant take on womenswear. Simple and feminine shapes coupled with thoughtful deconstruction and unusual fabric combinations continue to set Pyo ahead of the pack, and she’s not slowing down anytime soon.
Describing her design aesthetic as “intelligent and effortless with a modern twist,” Pyo says on looking back at her beginnings in the field that she had always wanted to explore fashion. “My mum was a fashion designer when she was young and I always used to look at her sketchbooks, which were amazing. She used to hide them from me because she didn’t want me to be a fashion designer.”
Completing her MA at Central Saint Martins (CSM) in 2011, Pyo created a striking collection for her show at London Fashion Week, catching the discerning eye of some of the most influential names in the global industry. Opulent fabrics in primary and neutral colours ritualistically draped to float about the models’ forms whilst they carried primordial sculptures attached to the clothing added an intriguing, and ultimately captivating, element of the cult. “I wanted to do something more long lasting, and that needs to be handcrafted,” says Pyo of the graduate collection. “During the research stage I was really taken by sculptor Isamu Noguchi and the unusual shapes and materials he used in his work. I wanted to incorporate these shapes into my collection and I had experimented with various fabrics and also some metal, but it didn’t achieve the feeling that I was after,” Pyo explains. “Towards the end I made cardboard cut-out shapes and held them in front of the garments and it somehow worked, even though they looked a little strange. The shapes brought a pagan-minimalist feel that I had looked at in my research.” So what of the making process? “The decision to cut the shapes from wood was natural,” says Pyo. “As the rest of the garments were made from silk and washed linen, I felt that the natural grain of the wood worked well with the rest of the materials. Burning the wood enhanced the texture and the charred, blackened colour was a great contrast to the bright colours of the silk and linen.”
Since graduating, Pyo has created two collections under her own name, become the Senior Womenswear Consulting Designer at Christopher Raeburn, and created a capsule collection for European retail heavyweight Weekday. “The Weekday collection was based on my MA collection but was adapted to be more wearable,” explains Pyo. “The garments are also reversible to give the wearer the opportunity to play around with the pieces. I tried to keep the fabrics as similar as possible since they contributed so much to the character of the collection.”
Pyo’s most recent collection, a SS15 range, is bold and minimalistic with an abstract edge. Recurring parallelograms in block colours, abstruse hemlines and distinctive cut-outs make up another uniquely constructed and visually striking collection Pyo. “This season I wanted the collection to have a more relaxed feeling but also have these unusual construction details. I wanted the details to be simple but effective, spontaneous yet thought out. I wanted the wearer to enjoy the finishing of the garment like it was a secret!”
On her creative process when drafting a new collection, Pyo explains, “It begins with the research and trying to capture a mood from an image or idea in my head. I love the research as all the ideas are still open and there are still so many possibilities that you can explore. It is at this point when everything is new and exciting. From the research I then move into developing the mood into something real. I prefer to sketch and drape when I design; there are no limitations when I sketch and I can be very imaginative. When I drape the ideas are more real and can be approached three dimensionally.”
Pyo says of the evolution of her style and artistic process, “The process is similar but what changes is when you have to think about who your customer is. Being a student is such a privilege as you can do whatever you want without the pressure of ever having to sell the garment!” she says, reminiscing on the different type of both creative freedom and responsibility compared to then and now. “When you are working in the industry it’s all about business, the same as any other industry I guess. I am fortunate enough to have received the opportunities that got me to where I am now. Winning the Hans Nefkens award” – a 2012 title in which Pyo was recognised for her work at CSM – “gave me the opportunity to have an exhibition at the Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam,” an achievement that adds to the solidification of Pyo’s presence as a key player of fashion’s new wave.
Looking forward, Pyo is determined and inspired. “I intend to treat my brand like a life-long project. I want to continue growing and developing it slowly,” she says. “I am currently working on a few different projects, including some consulting work for other designers and teaching at CSM. The main is working on my AW15 collection. I am taken by mixed materials and old pictures at the moment, so we’ll see what comes out of it all in February at London Fashion Week.” Here’s looking at you, Ms Pyo.
Words / Chloe Cooper
Photographer / Benjamin Mallek
Fashion / Laura Vartiainen
Creative Direction / Suzannah Snow
Make-up & Hair / Marie Bruce
Model / Pavlina @ M+P models