Going Backwards in Going Forward
Meet the artistic director of young fashion brand Essius
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.