by John Ortved
Eschewing the idea that upcycling and luxury are mutually exclusive, recent Parsons grad Haesu Kwon blends traditional high-end wools with anomalous yarns for Space Queen, an ambitious thesis collection of striking sweaters, leggings, capes and dresses. Her voluminous shapes, simplified grey-and-white palette, contrasting patterns, high-end materials and dramatic cuts speak to her ambition as well as her talent as both a designer and weaver.
"I really like making my own yarn," says Kwon, who apprenticed in Seoul under renowned Korean weaver Sun Kim. "I use two or three different yarns, marling them together so it makes the texture totally different."
Weaving together expensive threads, often purchased at auctions, also ensures an initial degree of originality. "Yarn companies will only carry what is trendy right now," she explains. Like her boat-neck sleeveless top, otherwise the height of simplicity, which Kwon makes out of wool comprised of vintage cashmere and shiny African embroidery thread. Another item in the project, an asymmetrical evening dress, features hand-twisted Tencel and metallic embroidery thread—materials that allow the dress to hold its shape while on the body.
Bolstering her taste for the experimental, the designer keeps quality hgih. "I also believe craftsmanship," she says. People who know and love fashion also care about the part which is never seen from the outside—the lining, the seams and finishing techniques."
If further proof was needed of her devotion to variable textures and the technical aspects of their design, Kwon looks forward to creating more reversible items (like the cape in her collection). "Sweaters don't need linings. If you use really good finishing techniques, you can wear them inside out."