Thursday, June 23, 2011

Talking with Jennifer Chun

all photos Jennifer Chun FW '11 [courtesy Jennifer Chun]

She's only three seasons deep into her namesake line, but from what I can see, Jennifer Chun is already showing the depth and creativity of a seasoned veteran.

Maybe it was her Pratt education or her stints at Michael Kors, Derek Lam and Brian Reyes. Or, maybe Jennifer's talent began to rear its head back in her hometown of Troy, Ohio, where she would reconstruct items from her mother's closet. All I know is that this lady is good, and I want every piece from her new collection.

With her upcoming visit to Louis Boston this weekend, I had the opportunity to interview Jennifer on her inspiration, her personal style and even her guilty pleasures.

“The AW Collection is inspired by my mother’s closet. I often would transform her clothing, with a little creativity, into my own. My designs represent a 60’s tomboy preppiness with a feminine edge. This season demonstrates my sensibility of ‘polish,’ mixed with ease. There are modern fabric combinations put forth into classic silhouettes that create the ‘Jennifer Chun’ signature.” -Jennifer Chun
Marissa: What kind of woman are you designing for, and who do you see as your ideal customer?

Jennifer Chun: I am designing for a female that wants to look polished but in a casual and effortless way. She isn't so ladylike but does find those pieces and makes it her own by adding her own casualness to it. This can be done by pairing one of my dressy full skirts and adding one of my jersey tops and a moto jacket rather than a dressy blazer. The ideal customer doesn't mind being feminine but likes to give it a tomboyish, preppy edge.

M: You mention your mother's closet as an inspiration for the latest collection. How do you feel her style has influenced you?

JC: It’s funny, but my father actually has influenced my style because he has great taste, but it’s the pieces my mother brought with her from Korea that were tailored for her. She is very petite, so it was hard for her to shop in the states. Her mother, my grandmother, is a true believer in dressing like a lady and dressing well. I took her pieces and made them my own. Growing up in Ohio, there were not many opportunities for events. My mother had this beautiful schoolgirl-like vest with matching skirts. Her coats were incredibly well tailored and had great subtle details or patterns. Nothing was really loud, but everything had little details that I still love and incorporate in my designs now.

M: What is your personal style philosophy?

JC: I don’t think there is anything wrong with looking pretty. I love dressing up but never like feeling overdressed or too ladylike, but of course, I don't like to look underdressed either. I love taking one of my really dressy pouf skirts and adding an oversized tank with a boyish or military jacket with a strong shoe. I love adding a tomboy element to anything I wear. I never feel comfortable being overtly sexy but I do think looking feminine is nice without being too girly. This can be achieved though certain colors, prints and how you style it. I love classic shapes with a certain detail, but I love interesting fabrics. I rarely purchase something in a basic casual fabric unless it’s low cost at Club Monaco or Uniqlo.

M: Which designers do you find most inspiring, and which is your favorite to wear?

JC: I love Balenciaga for inspiration. Fall '06 and Fall '07 I still can't get over! I loved the concept and mixing of schoolboy preppy with the ethnic prints. Truly brilliant! I also loved the riding, '60s mod look in Fall '06 because I love the '60s silhouettes, which are, again, sexy but not in an overt way. I don't like anything too literal, so it was a really great balance in those shows. I love  [to wear] Burberry Prorsum! I like its wearability and the way Christopher Bailey has made the collection classic but edgy.

M: I always have a favorite "go-to" outfit, one that make me feel comfortable and confident. What is yours this season?

JC: I really love wearing my floral outline print pouf skirt from SS11 with a t-shirt and my leather jacket, and I can't stop wearing these great Burberry boots that work with everything and are actually comfortable. I also can't help wearing my Fall 2011 calligraphy t-shirt dress because its so easy to wear and comfortable. I think I might overdo it. I'm the type of person who wears the same thing over and over until it fall apart.

M: Are there any trends you can't get enough of right now?

JC: I do like how things are getting a little cleaner in terms of styling. I wouldn't call myself a minimalist, but I do like things a little on the clean side with some basic layering. And I love colorblocking!

M: Any trends that you would like to see disappear forever?

JC: Overpriced basics! That is something I really don't understand - paying a lot of money for simple basics. I am also not really into the long, flowy skirts worn with a loose tank and regular bra underneath. At least wear a pretty one underneath please!

M: You mention travel as an inspiration for your designs. What has been your most memorable trip?

JC: My most memorable trip was my honeymoon in Paris and not just because I was happy personally. My husband and I saw Natalia Vodianova with her husband on the street, and they just looked beautiful, and I felt really inspired. It also helped that we saw Carmen Cass and Carine Roitfeld, too!

M: Do you have any guilty pleasures that you would be willing to let us in on?

JC: I feel like I have many. One is buying vintage jewelry wherever I travel. Another one is, for some odd reason, free food and I know its weird but airplane food. Shoes are another one and Billy's cupcakes.

If you're in Boston this weekend, be sure to stop by Louis to meet Jennifer, view her SS collection and preorder items from FW '11. And, if you really want to impress her, bring some cupcakes.


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