Thomas Wylde, the Evolution: interview with creative Jene Park
Ruffled silk dresses, rock’n roll chains and beautiful crystals on cashmere textures: Jene Park, the Creative Director of Thomas Wylde (pictured below), at her first collection for the brand, took the New York Fashion Week by storm. I talked to her about the creative direction of Thomas Wylde, about the most creative decade in fashion industry, about the pursuit of the perfect fabric and the best place to find anything you can dream of, night market in Seul. The richest period in fashion (from inspiration to muses, texture and colors)?. “Today”, says Jene. “I think fashion today is so approachable and accessible. The well-made and designed clothes are no longer for the privileged. Literally, anybody can easily create a personal style by mixing couture and ready-to-wear, vintage and modern and luxury and street. Anything is possible and everybody can express their point of view through fashion. And now we, as designers, have so many tools to realize our concepts, from paper to 3D printing.”
Who are you, Jene? What was your professional path?
I am the Creative Director at Thomas Wylde. I was born and raised in South Korea, and I came to Los Angeles in the early ’90s with one dream: to one day be a working designer. I graduated from FIDM in Los Angeles with a design degree. I was the recipient of two prestigious awards: the Fred Hayman Beverly Hills award and the sought-after Maison Lesage award. After completing my studies, I worked with Max Azria – founder of BCBG – for a decade, before I started my own consulting venture called Jen E Jen. I consulted for top American brands through Jen E Jen and before joining Thomas Wylde brand as the COO in 2006. After nearly a decade, I oversaw the entire spectrum of the company operations, and in 2015, I became a partner and the Creative Director at Thomas Wylde.
The collection presented at New York Fashion Week in September 2015 has a lot of embellishments, chains and jewellery. How important are these for a good outfit?
This is the company’s second collection presented at NYFW and my first collection as its creative director. The Thomas Wylde brand has always had a rock’n’roll vibe with an edgy aesthetic with impeccably tailored, high quality luxury-minded special pieces. Almost everything we produce is individually made by hand. Each one is cut, sewn and finished by specialty artisans. I value the product. I pay more attention to the quality, construction and details of the garments more than anything else. So it is only natural, to have them adorned not only with rare, beautiful crystals, but also multiple sizes of chains and crosses intertwining to create truly one-of-a-kind designs. Each outfit, no matter how simple it may appear, has its special part that stands out. The details I tend to like are high quality, hand made, hard to find and rare – almost like a piece of art. I like to give a special touch to every single piece in the collection.
After your first collection at Thomas Wylde, critics said that Thomas Wylde has a softer look now, without all the skull prints and accessories. Why did you give up on those themes?
I named this season’s collection “Evolution” because the brand has been constantly evolving, just like people and society, to the next level. The collection started out having a hard-edged rock’n’roll personality and has grown into more of luxury lifestyle brand. I wanted to move away from the one dimensional image to reach a broader audience by adding a soft and modern touch. With that in mind, I add many draped and ruffled silk tops and dresses, but still have the rock’n’roll edge by adding delicate chains and crosses. I would like to keep skulls as a part of classic category as a capsule collection that reminds us the roots of the brand and where it all comes from.
What is your favorite piece from this collection? Why?
I love everything, and it is super hard for me to pick one. But, I must say the 16GG fine cashmere bathrobe with giant Swarovski crystal cross on the back because this piece represents the ultimate luxury as we don’t need a cashmere bathrobe, but it’s too cool to not to have.
Your favorite fabric to work with…
I love ultra luxurious fabric. 100% cashmere, 100% fine silk, the most soft and supple leather, super fine cotton, silky lyocell, etc. For me, the collection starts each season by selecting the most luxurious fabric.
The icon piece of Thomas Wylde of the last seasons? The best selling one?
We sell a lot of the sexy rock’n’roll leather pieces, iconic Thomas Wylde print silk groups in both tops and dresses, and of course, cashmere.
What inspires you when you think to design a new piece / collection?
It usually starts with coming up with the season’s theme and concept. I live, breathe, and dream the concept of the season and discuss with my talented design team about how to tell the story. I am super inspired by images so we build mood boards, detail boards, listen to music, watch movies related to the season’s theme and concept. Once we feel we locked down the direction, then I work on developing a collection around the theme, which is translated into picking up fabrics, the season’s particular prints, hardware and details.
How important is, from a designer’s point of view, the new media?
I think it is crucial. Nowadays, a brand that does not have the big marketing funds behind it, they can still reach and succeed through new media. While at the same time, one bad story that catches on in the media can kill a brand (John Galliano). So I think it is imperative to manage it properly.
We can find Thomas Wylde pieces in… Exclusive high-end fashion boutique and department stores around the world. (www.thomaswylde.com)
Your all times favorite designer… Alexander McQueen. He was just pure genius.
The best city for shopping… Seoul, Korea.
Your shopping secret address… Night market in Seoul. You can find anything and everything under $100!
Your favorite city for inspiration… Paris.
The 5 pieces everybody should have… Stretch leather leggings, 100 % cashmere hoodie, deep V neck lyocell t-shirt, 100% silk caftan and baby skin soft leather biker jacket.
Photo: (c) Lecca