In a world of fast commerce, knitwear designer Julie Eunju Kim reminds us that fashion can still be about art and craft. Using yarn as her medium and varied knitting methods, Kim manages to do the impossible with her designs; creating feminine lightness and daintiness. Kim’s collection sees severe silhouettes that, at the same time, flow ethereally. These beautiful creations are simultaneously a testament to Kim’s musical background and her main inspiration: abstract artist Paul Klee. The photos taken by Jen Miyako McGowan along with styling by Megan Vo perfectly capture the dreamy collection and Kim’s artistry.
Origins are very important to this sustainable designer, and hers certainly influenced her trade. “Growing up in Korea where four seasons have their own statement, we got to have a huge closet that is distinguished by each season,” she explains. “Everyone has their favourite seasons and my favourite season was winter because I was very excited to be in a cosy sweater in [the] snow.” It wasn’t a shock to anyone when Kim decided to major in knitwear in her second year of college. “It was perfect for me. [I] like to craft and play around with texture, so I stayed to learn more knitting techniques in depth and I became more confident using knitwear techniques,” Kim explains.
A unique blend of sharp silhouettes and soft movement reveal not only the versatility of knitwear but also Kim’s dual creative journey to this collection. “I spend my time mostly with art and music,” she reveals. For most of her life, Kim travelled performing music on stage, playing the piano, clarinet and traditional Korean instruments. After she stopped performing, Kim admits candidly that she has “been trying to fill the emptiness by involving as much music in my life as I can”. In her collection, we can almost hear the music again. Kim maintains that music plays an important role in her creative process, along with art. “When I look at [art] and depending on what kind of music I am listening to, the art I am looking at and music I am listening to create a whole different point of view, which mostly becomes my initial inspiration. After I roughly sketch an inspiration in my mind, I start digging them into depth. I go to [the] library, do Google research or visit [the] actual material if I need to. Most of the time, the research brings up some philosophical thesis that clicks my mind and it becomes my direction for [the] whole project, and it sometimes even becomes a motto of my life.”
Saying this she evokes the spirit of a true artist, something her designs only confirm. “I really enjoy appreciating flowy, soft and abstract art that goes with my music,” Kim says. And it seems Paul Klee’s art does exactly that, crediting the abstract painter as a direct inspiration for this collection. “In this collection, I tried to emphasise Paul Klee’s brush strokes that are very flowy and watery using tails of yarn and fringes.”
This translation proves that art goes beyond the galleries, and can grace runways or dreamy meadows.Indeed Kim pushes the envelope for fashion. Her art is paradoxical, being both powerful and delicate; heavy and light. The designer explains that this is how she captures femininity. “I could not avoid having some bulky and heavy texture in knitwear because, in my opinion, knitwear is prettiest when it brings some bulkiness and heaviness. I also believe feminine lightness could have popped up even better because [of it].” In this way, Kim’s collection elegantly navigates womenswear.
Seeing the beauty that flourishes from the mind of Julia Eunju Kim, you can’t help but wonder what to expect next and the designer admits that she might work with other media in the future. “I am trying to go very experimental, which might be a challenge and new attempt for me.” Until then Kim’s stunning collection is a dream, the perfect “combination of fashion, music and art”.
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