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Hello Gorgeous: Woo Youngmi, Designer

Even before the Kaiser of fashion, Karl Lagerfeld – who recently caused a mass fash-flock migration to the South Korean capital for the presentation of Chanel’s Cruise Collection – had his eyes on the K-prize, Seoul sister Woo Youngmi was putting her hometown on the map.

Her eponymous brand presents a refreshingly modern take on modish menswear and has seen her find success further afield as well as locally, in fashion’s first home – and her second – Paris. We caught up with the designer to talk aesthetics, adventures and dressing designer dandies…

What’s your earliest memory of fashion? 

One of my strongest childhood memories is watching my father getting dressed. He took great care in his appearance and I loved to quietly observe him choosing his outfits. He would also bring home European magazines and these opened my eyes to the world of design.

What attracted you to designing menswear? 

Similarly I credit watching my father to the beginning of my love of menswear and my understanding of how, in menswear especially, the small details are so important.

Why did you choose to establish and show your brand in Paris and not Seoul? 

For Wooyoungmi I have always had an international outlook so it makes sense to be in Paris – the centre of the fashion world! On top of that, the city always inspires me.

Who is the Wooyoungmi man? 

He is cultured and artistic with an innate sense of style. He is not a typical nine-to-five guy.  He enjoys wearing well-cut clothes and luxurious fabrics but he wears them in his own offbeat way.

You’re working with your daughter now – how are you both finding that? 

It’s both challenging and rewarding to work closely with family. As joint creative director Katie brings a great amount of creativity to the process, which I find uplifting. At the same time I’m able to share my experience and knowledge with her.

Do you think that having her on board has changed the Wooyoungmi look in any way? 

Katie’s aesthetic is about relaxed luxury so the Wooyoungmi silhouette has loosened up in recent seasons. But we are always true to the Wooyoungmi man.

What inspires you and does each collection have a different motivation behind it? 

I’m continuously inspired by what I see around me every day, in particular architecture, and art but also men that I see on the street. Each season we have a different theme, which we research and work around. But the Wooyoungmi man is always the heart of the collection – how he would wear the clothes in that particular place or time.

Ok, let’s talk travel, where are your favourite destinations to visit? 

I like to travel anywhere where there is a story of architecture or art, to get inspiration for the coming collection from the unique story of that place.

Where’s next on your travel bucket list? 

The Archipiélago de Colón (Galápagos Islands)!

How would you spend a perfect evening in Seoul? 

A perfect evening for me would be spent with my family at Design Allée – a garden design center and café owned by my sisters.  It’s on the outskirts of Seoul, located at the base of the mountains  – the perfect escape from the city.

And in Paris? 

In Paris I like to sit alone on a cafe terrace and watch the world go by.

And finally, what’s next for you? 

We’ll continue to expand the brand into new markets, and deliver our best to the Wooyoungmi client.

Manmade Wooyoungmi, 648-1, Shinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, +82 2 515 8897,

Planning a stylish sojourn in Seoul? Discover bijou boutiques, standout stores and insider shopping itineraries with the LUXE Seoul guide!

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