Go­ing Back­wards in Go­ing For­ward

Meet the artis­tic di­rec­tor of young fash­ion brand Es­sius

Where Paris - - Contents - By San­dra Iskan­der

Suisse, Swiss in French, spelled back­wards is Es­sius, but there is noth­ing back­wards about this young menswear lux­ury brand that was launched by en­tre­pre­neur Adel Na­jah in 2015. Fo­cus­ing on the pre­ci­sion of ev­ery­thing Swiss and the lux­ury con­no­ta­tion that comes with that, Adel wanted to cre­ate a brand that was not only fash­ion­able but also in tune of what gen­tle­men look for when it comes to fash­ion. Push­ing the bound­aries of menswear, Es­sius com­bines so­phis­ti­ca­tion, min­i­mal­ism and cre­ativ­ity, and draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from Swiss ar­chi­tect Le Cour­bus­ier for the rounded de­tails of the house’s tai­lored suits is only one of the ex­am­ples of how the house’s Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Youn Chong Bak’s tal­ents are demon­strated, with her de­signs for the fash­ion house soft yet mas­cu­line, strik­ing and new. Here Youn shares with us her in­spi­ra­tions for Es­sius, what drives her to de­sign for men and her love for Paris. How did you walk into the role of artis­tic di­rec­tor of Es­sius? I had this idea about cre­at­ing my own brand for a while be­fore I met Adel. As we got in­tro­duced by a friend and shared our vi­sion about fash­ion, we clicked and fig­ured that our needs were com­ple­men­tary and my role as an artis­tic di­rec­tor for ES­SIUS started at that point. How would you de­scribe your style when it comes to de­sign­ing for men? My style is rather unique since I’m prac­ti­cally one of the rare women that de­signs ex­clu­sively for men. That par­tic­u­lar vi­sion of how a piece is de­signed by me is that it starts from the shape and per­fect fit, which I learned from the mas­ter [Francesco Smalto], and my cre­ativ­ity is shown in the de­tails com­bined with tech­nique. How did you start work­ing in fash­ion? After my three years in study­ing fash­ion de­sign and pat­tern-mak­ing where I spe­cialised in menswear, I started as an as­sis­tant at Francesco Smalto, a house known for its be­spoke and tai­lor­ing, where I had the chance to work next to the founder. Which de­sign­ers do you ad­mire and in­flu­ence you? Ac­tu­ally, I’m more in­spired by the hand­craft and premier d’ate­lier tech­niques of any brand, more than de­sign­ers. They are the ones who cre­ate from noth­ing, a true source of in­spi­ra­tion and so I would say Mai­son Her­mès is by far the mas­ter. How crit­i­cal are you of what peo­ple are wear­ing? I guess the most crit­i­cal I am is about how men wear suits, shirts, ties, coats and ev­ery­thing that goes with it. Do you in­stantly no­tice how peo­ple accessorise when you meet them or when you walk down the street? I try not to, but some­how I just no­tice when the com­bi­na­tion doesn’t fit. Do you ever wear some of the men’s pieces you de­sign for Es­sius? Of course. I try to wear as much as I can, or lets say ev­ery­thing that can be made to my size. What should ev­ery woman and man have in his or her wardrobe? A shirt, shoes for ev­ery oc­ca­sion and a match­ing bag. If there is one piece of cloth­ing to have what would it be? A shirt. How are you con­stantly in­spired? The in­spi­ra­tion can come up any time, but mostly through my trav­els I would say. If you were not de­sign­ing what would you be do­ing? Good ques­tion. I would prob­a­bly work in another cre­ative field. What’s next for you as a de­signer? Co-brand­ing would be the next step to take Es­sius.

Is it eas­ier or more dif­fi­cult to col­lab­o­rate with other de­sign­ers? It de­pends on the de­signer. I would say that it should not be too dif­fi­cult to col­lab­o­rate with another de­signer. Would you ever con­sider de­sign­ing a women’s line? With Es­sius we want to con­cen­trate on menswear for the mo­ment. Fash­ion tends to be very in­ti­mate with each piece and look cre­at­ing a state­ment, do you feel the same way about ev­ery piece you de­sign? Does ev­ery col­lec­tion you work on con­jure up cer­tain mem­o­ries for you? Of course, ev­ery piece I de­sign is is­sued by an in­spi­ra­tion of a cer­tain mo­ment, which is at­tached to a mem­ory. How do you spend your free time? Trav­el­ling for me is a great ther­apy to get re­sourced and find in­spi­ra­tion for a new sea­son. So I try to ex­plore the world as much as I can. How do you man­age your time be­tween your per­sonal and pro­fes­sional life? If you start a new ad­ven­ture, you have to sac­ri­fice a lit­tle bit of your per­sonal life. But I al­ways keep a part of my sched­ule for my pri­vate life. It’s im­por­tant to know that your life is not only driven by work. Which city of­fers you the most in­spi­ra­tion and why? Any city can be and has been an in­spi­ra­tion for me. Maybe some are more for a win­ter [col­lec­tion] and some more for a sum­mer sea­son. What are your favourite places in Paris? Ev­ery time I’m in Paris I just love to walk through the city in the 1st ar­rondisse­ment or Saint-Ger­main, es­pe­cially when the weather is nice and just have the typ­i­cal Parisian feel­ing. Where do you love to shop in Paris? I used to shop some of the sec­ond hand stores and flea mar­kets, but I also like to walk down Rue Saint-Honoré, but my favourite shop­ping for my­self is in Seoul. If you could wake up to­mor­row in any part of the world, where would it be? Any­where near the beach. What is the one item you never travel with­out? My sketch­book. What is the first thing you do when you ar­rive at your new des­ti­na­tion? Have cof­fee and have a look at what the new des­ti­na­tion looks like. What are your suit­case pack­ing tips? Take as lit­tle as you can but ev­ery­thing for ev­ery oc­ca­sion. It’s im­por­tant that the items in your suit­case com­bine with each other. The Es­sius col­lec­tion is avail­able at Printemps.

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