GRACE MOON INTERVIEW
How would you describe your personal style?
Having studied fashion in London at 19 and living in the United States for over 30 years now, I am inherently American as I am Korean. As such most all my designs attempt to seamlessly fuse Korean heritage with a more Western expression, blending and showcasing my bi-cultural background, innately American and innately Korean. Inspiration comes from all places, but for me it most of the time comes from culture. Having lived in California for 30+ years, I am just as Californian as I am Korean, but there is often a very jarring difference in culture between these two cultures. It is those differences that inspires me to figure out how I can seamlessly blend two things that seem so different, seem to be opposite, and bring harmony. I often think of it in a bigger scale, just like in fashion, I believe despite our differences, whether in culture, race, sex, or religion, there are ways in which we all can come together as human beings, and that is the bigger statement that motivates my designs and my work.
- How would you relate past & present fashion trends?
Trends are cyclical. As such, lots of “past trends” have and are coming back with modernized twists. I have always admired classic trends, beauties, and icons especially Audrey Hepburn and Princess Diana. I always draw on classical unchanging beauty like them and add a splash of modern trends that ends up making my designs unique. Also, as I previously mentioned, my cultural heritage plays a huge part in relating past and present trend. I draw heavily on Korean cultural attire called “hanbok” which have been worn relatively the same traditional style for hundreds of years. I utilize that classic beauty and certain aspects of that as basis and add my knowledge of present trend to bring new and fresh take on “trends of the past”.
I love collaboration, whether that is with models or other designers. I believe each of us has something unique to offer and the best collaborations are the ones where each part is truly an expert in certain aspect of their work. When we come together, we each play an intricate part in the whole and draws a bigger, grander picture than me just trying to do everything perfectly. I always say, “leave it to the professionals”. I let the best do what they do best and find the best way that I can fit them, and they can fit me.
- Why it’s important to present your collection in Venice during the film festival
I think fashion plays a huge part in film. It sets the mood, the tone and the backdrop for the film. Venice is not only one of the most iconic and romantic locations in the world, it is where fashion and film are greatly celebrated. As Venice Film Festival is a highly prestigious event, it means a lot for me to be able to be a part of such artistic greatness in such a beautiful city. The city breathes culture and beauty and to be affiliated with that and to show in such a city during such an event is truly an honor.
- How would you deal with an arrogant client?
I haven’t had such an experience yet but I am sure I will deal with it accordingly if I meet one in the future. I don’t have a problem with working with others and quite open to meeting their needs, however, I do think I would not do anything that might compromise my principles of life and fashion.
- If you win Cannes Fashion & Film Awards “best Designer” at does this represent for you?
That would be an immense honor. As a Korean who prides herself in using Korean fabric, showcasing Korean heritage it would truly be an honor. I am fortunate to have a great sponsor for textile and fabric in Gyeonggi Textile Center (GTC). GTC is a Korean textile company representing 100+ different textile mills in the province of Gyeonggi in South Korea. I am the first designer that GTC has sponsored internationally, and we work very closely with the LA branch, GTC-LA, to prepare trend setting, unique, and quality fabric and materials to utilize in my designs. We have worked extensively over the years to promote Korean fabric, designs, and designers around the world and “Best Designer” award would be an accomplishment to highlight those efforts.
- What do you consider the important facts of the fashion industry?
In this day and age of the internet, instant information and overflowing ideas and the sharing of ideas, it is extremely important to find and hold onto your identity and concept, from branding to design. Obviously great designs, quality products, environmentally friendly manufacturing processes are important, but I believe staying true to your color is one of the more important facts of the fashion industry.
- What do you think about work ethics and what kind of ethics do you believe in following while working with fashion?
I believe in working hard, but I believe more in working smart. Working hard is a basic in this field. Everyone must work hard, continuing to learn, to research, to inspire and to be inspired but hard work doesn’t always translate to success. An aspect of working smart is relationship. A big part of fashion is business and business is relationships. You must be able to work well with others, to give and know how to receive. I mentioned before that I love to collaborate. That means I like to work with the best in anything that I do and I let those professionals do what they do best. I trust in their craft, and usually they reward my trust with great results. Secondly, in terms of design, you must want to wear your own designs. There is a difference with designs on paper and actual clothes. They must be able to translate and I, as a designer, must want to wear my own clothes, aesthetically and comfortably. If I cannot be proud of my designs, I should never put it out in public.
- What kind of software do you use while designing?
I mostly use Adobe illustrator or hand sketch. Call me old school but I love the feeling of sketch and physically setting pencil to paper, but the newer, younger generation do marvelous designs through computer sketching. I advise you to do what you are most comfortable with to aid your creative juices to flow freely.
- What skills according to you are necessary for a successful fashion designer?
You have to be unique, and that can be different things to different people. For me it is styling. I pride myself in styling, in being able to put together not only pieces, but also bags, jewelry, shoes, accessories, etc to make a finished look that is really unique, vibrant, and wearable.
- Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
I have a lot of goals in terms of fashion, continuing to be recognized for my designs, bringing recognition to my Korean heritage and the many wonderful resources like textile, beauty and cosmetic products, but my greatest goal and dream has always been to be an inspiration for the next generation, especially the next generation of women. After having work as a head designer at Guess and many other brands, I started my own brand rather late, at the age of 50. It was scary and difficult, but I was able to push forward to show others that age, sex, race really has no holds. If you want something, you have to work hard, work smart and assertively, and you have to know to give. Those are some of the things I wanted to pass along and hopefully in ten years time, I will be in a place, on a stage where I am able to continue that message and hopefully inspire others to pursue their passion whether in fashion or in some other field.