[PROFILE] Jean Yu - Exciting Clothing / Lingerie Designer
- Unmentionables You Want to Mention
By JENNIFER TUNG
Since Rei Kawakubo showed her first collection of deconstructed
clothes in Paris in 1981, the fashion establishment has regarded
her, as founder of Comme des Garçons, as an avant-garde visionary,
an artist whose sculptural approach to clothing defies all
That opinion is shared by Jean Yu, the New York lingerie
designer. "You see her impact and legacy everywhere," said Ms. Yu,
36, an admirer since high school. "Rei's a modernist in the way that
Coco Chanel and Madeleine Vionnet were."
So two weeks ago Ms. Yu was virtually "tongue-tied" when Ms.
Kawakubo offered her a space in Comme des Garçons' much-talked-about
new London store, Dover Street Market. The raw six-story fashion
bazaar (the company calls it a think tank) stands amid the luxury
antiques and jewelry stores of Mayfair and houses an mix of radical
designers, each hand-picked by Ms. Kawakubo. The roster includes
Azzedine Alaïa; Hedi Slimane, selling his limited-edition furniture
collection; and Levi's, in collaboration with Junya Watanabe.
Ms. Yu's work was a definite fit, said Adrian Joffe, president of
Comme des Garçons and Ms. Kawakubo's husband. "When we saw her
samples in Tokyo, we simply loved them," he said over the phone last
week. "We thought they were unlike anything else on the market, and
we immediately said yes. We like things that are new and unusual,
and her lingerie is so lovely."
Those words capture Ms. Yu's spare, meticulously constructed
designs, which make their point through architecture, not
embellishment. The designer's cool aesthetic has earned her a high-
profile clientele of photographers, artists and models who typically
get things free but pay for her pieces.
Free of lace, wires and padding, Ms. Yu's underthings are made from
silk chiffon, charmeuse and georgette, often layered to vary
transparency. "There should be no distinction between the lining and
the outer fabric," said the designer, who began making lingerie two
years ago to complement her body-skimming silk dresses. "That's
almost a fetish for me." Other signature details are self-finished
edges crisscrossing to form provocative triangles and grosgrain in
place of elastic.
But appearance is only half the equation. "Traditionally, sexy
lingerie constricts and controls, but mine feels as close to nothing
as possible," said Ms. Yu, sitting on a stool in her Crosby Street
shop and studio, 37=1. Dressed in a black bomber jacket, jeans and
boots, with slashes of fuchsia pencil under her eyes, she exuded a
punk-grunge chic. "This glorifies the body as it is. It's smart
sexy," as opposed to smutty.
Ms. Yu was born in Korea, grew up in Los Angeles and studied at the
Fashion Institute of Technology for five years. She clearly isn't
interested in cheap thrills: her panties and bras start at $238.
Her clients say they are happy to pay. "Jean makes spectacular
little nothing pieces that are mysterious," said Ikram Goldman, who
sells the designs in her Chicago store Ikram. "I don't even consider
it lingerie. To me it's the first layer of clothes that you want to
touch your body."
The director Sofia Coppola, who wears Ms. Yu's made-to-measure
pieces, echoed the sentiment. "It's so delicate and simple," she
said. "It's very feminine, but not frilly.`
Natalia Vodianova, the model, joked that she's spent enough money in
Ms. Yu's shop to buy a small car. "Everything is well cut," she
said. "She made a beautiful dress for me, and I'm saving it for a
special occasion because it's almost too sexy."
To Ms. Yu, that is high praise. "It's easy for New Yorkers to feel
jaded," she said. "I've felt that way since I was 12."
Born in Korea and raised in Southern California, Jean Yu moved to
New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Five years
ago, she started her sportswear collection, and two years ago, she
created her signature line.
This month of April, the cover of the Vogue magazine brings one
pleasing surprise, is its cover. In her she appears the singer Gwen
Stefani , vocalista of the group nonDoubt . They do not ask to me
because, but America an icon of the fashion has become everything.
Hata here all good, the surprise arrived when finding out to us that
the dress that Lucia in the cover was not the latest of Chanel,
neither Alexander McQueen, nor Gucci, nor Dolce Gabbana ... Gwen
Stefani Lucia for the cover a dress of Jean Yu, a New York designer
who still fights to become a name in the world of the fashion.
They know what is that for a designer who not yet has obtained the
consecration? To manage to dress the protagonist the cover of Vogue
means generally a spectacular push for the race of any designer.
Yu graduated in school FIT of New York and in spite of being at a
great professional moment, still the telephone must answer she
herself before the success that has supposed this cover.
What seemed to him the cover? An excellent gift for its projection,
although in spite of considering that Gwen Stefani is wonderful with
the dress, Yu thinks that the pose is not indeed the best one.
How it obtained that cover? The key we directly found it in Gwen
Stefani, an authentic admirer of Jean Yu that put like condition for
shooting for appearing with the dress that she chose.
But who is Jean Yu? One is a designer born in bred Korea although in
California. Their studies in the Technological Institute of the
Fashion, forced it to be transferred to New York, city in which has
established its own study.
At the moment it has its own company/signature, to which it applies
its particular knowledge on the textile technology. Pure lines,
details in the construction, almost escultural conceptualidad and an
interesting and innovating use of the cotton.
Jean defines its style like Organic, without form
but until they do not make contact with the enemy with the body. Its
inspiration? The experimentation with weaves, coverall the cotton by
its versatility and its naturalness and the silk, one of its great
Art or fashion? Their work until the present time has confirmed it
like an artist of the fashion, although their next collections are
more near look accidental with the objective to create much more
Between its multiple reincarnations after its studies, the one that
more existos has reported to him has been the Yujean line, although
it defines the experience of Yujean like a logical transition
between the student just licensed and atelier that she makes unique
pieces, since Yujean has allowed him to explode plus its commercial
At the moment its store in the Crosby street of New York, has become
one of those paradises for the finders of tendencies, since in a as
consumista city as the great apple, people with great spending power
looks for the latest, the stranger.
Its quotation? If you want to take a vestidito of Yu you will have
rascarte a little the pocket since a modelito his moves generally
between the 1,200 and 1,600 euros.
For this season spring summer 2004, Yu brings more brightness,
colors and printings. The rose and the yellow take the collection
much more playing with neutral tones like the target or the black,
since the designer sees in the game of resistances a evolution her
designs, using the color of deliverada form.
Its spectacular ascent in the world of the fashion has taken to open
it two stores in New York, besides to obtain that their collections
are sold in the recognized Barneys store. Now? After the cover of
Vogue, the specialized press seems to indicate to Yu like one of the
great promises of the New York fashion.
37 Crosby Street