Life is the farce which everyone has to perform. Abstraction from the non-objective world with Yasmin, photographed by Marco Giuliano and styled by Anca Macavei, featuring garments by the avant-garde Antwerp-based brand Kié Einzelgänger.
Tell us a bit about your brand, and why the name Einzelgänger? If I am not mistaken, it is German for “loner”, right?
I’m pretty sure naming something is a strenuous thing for most of the people, but I luckily met this one incident at right timing. I certainly remember that accidental moment when I first spotted this word. I was with my mother around 2016, in the New York University Bobst library to dig out some books in my usual days, and I pulled out one of the book about the Interbellum period’s artists. Unfortunately, that book was in German, and I had to ask my mother to translate as she understood German. The writer of the book defined people I admired as an “Einzelgänger” and I picked out that specific word out of curiosity. I remember she explained by deconstructing the word “Einzel” “Gang” “-er”. After that day, few weeks have passed and that word was kept echoing in my head.
Me, as an only child (Einzelkind), I always have appreciated this ironic solitude I inevitably had and somehow I was sort of enjoying it. I even remember asking my parents that I don’t want any brothers and sisters. Einzelgänger, a person who walks his or her way without the disturbance of the surroundings, somewhat reflected the life I walked until now. I felt like it is the precise word to depict my ego all of sudden. And I adored the fact that this discovery was with my mother who gave me birth, and I could use this word to give birth to my creation. I guess this kind of “Eureka” moment doesn’t happen that often.
I wanted to name every garment made with my ego, Kié Einzelgänger and that’s how my brand was born.
You have many countries involved in your background from being born in Switzerland but also spending your childhood in South Korea then moving to New York, Japan, and Antwerp, are all these places in reflected your brand and if yes how?
Yes definitely. All those countries I lived-in played a big role in forming my ego and it has always been the most difficult question to answer where I’m from. I was, am, and will be always a Swiss-born Korean girl who lived in New York, and make things in Japan but now somehow settled in Antwerp, and don’t know where to settle next. It became a part of my life to always figure out how to live as a foreigner even in my motherland.
In the late-90s, a Swiss-born Korean kid was enough reason to be discriminated in South Korea. I have to say, I spent my childhood in Switzerland and suffered my adolescence in South Korea. I still recall my adolescence as a traumatic time getting severely bullied just because of how I physically looked or how I acted. I was often considered as a “wrong being” and it was tough to endure from the age of 8. I felt naked when I was judged on my physical appearance, and this instinctively led me to find something to cover up my silhouette, and it was the “Garment”, and sometimes make-up, which is the most significant components for both theatre and fashion. I never expected myself to become a designer, but it was necessary to become a designer to protect myself.
These violent memories probably became a reason to send myself to New York City and it was my first turning point as it completely changed my way of thinking. I spent most of my 20s in New York, right after that adolescence. Then I encountered the 2nd turning point by visiting Paris and Japan often, to source materials and to present my work and I recall that was about a time when I first felt like I made real friends.
Now I’m on my 3rd turning point in Antwerp, and finally about to re-start my adolescence.
You state your recent focus is to observe the subject of “sleep and the omnipotence of dream and unconsciousness mind”. Can you disclose more about that and about the importance of the visual arts of the 1920s – 1940s for your aesthetic?
I am a less logical person who depend more on the intuitions. I admired the idea of Automatism, in which you observe yourself or something else without the constraints of rational minds.
As my research gets deeper on observing why I’m instinctively driven to the Interbellum period (the 1920s – 1930s), and why my taste has been evolved like this without knowing, I ended up enrolling myself to scrutinize a subject which most artists in 1920s-30s were focusing on. It was Surrealism and Dadaism. Everything that drew my attention were strangely all correlated to this subject. What I liked happening here was the process of these discoveries, because my intuitions were the starting point, and felt like unveiling my roots as I dig up more.
One day, several eye-opening writings on the Manifestoes of Surrealism by André Breton, led me to examine my own sleep as considering the thickness of my dreams seemed to be significant. We are all in sleep and dream 1/3 of our life, and these are too important to be neglected. Then I began to document my own “Modes of waking” (moments of reality) . The moment we encounter every morning right after the state of unawareness. It is when we meet again the reality and rational minds to live our lives. No one can do this behalf of me and there is this captivating loneliness I experience. I find it interesting to have this documented to expose the most Einzelganger side of myself during my usual day, and I’m sure it will reveal on my creation soon.
Can you tell us more about the distinction between your collections and the division between fashion and theatre? Do they derive from similar inspirations or are these two different worlds?
I still have no idea how to simply define what art, fashion or theatre is, or distinguish the difference between them. One similarity I could think of is all these can exists when there are audiences.
I once read the quote “Life is the farce which everyone has to perform” by Arthur Rimbaud. I was fond of the idea of our life described as a stage, and people living are all acting in it and also people being the audiences to each other. At least to me, it’s true, because I own several personas and it changes by the environments or by what I’m wearing on my face or body.
Then I imagined, as I make the garments made for “Einzelganger”, the moments the wearer puts on my design, the wearer is wearing the characteristic of the Einzelgänger, or the ambiance of all my researches. That sounded like a theatre costume to me.
Perhaps for some people, clothes could mean as just clothes, but for some people, it could be a delicate mask to perform various personas in them to express themselves or to protect themselves. It is somewhat bewitching to witness it when that happens to someone, or to myself.
What do you love most about being a designer?
Experiencing numerous failures keeps my life invigorating. It gives a enough reason to try endlessly to satisfy my ego. To actually have something to try and error infinitely is the most blessing fact for someone who consistently creates something. I’m never bored with my own tasks to solve files of problems, or sometimes create problems. I find it fascinating to find myself repetitively being euphoric an miserable. Owning those contradictory concerns keeps me feel alive.
I’m thankful that the learning is endless. And when there is finally the moment when I witness the outcome that resembles little bit of myself, that feels like giving birth.
What are some future plans for Kié Einzelgänger you would like to share with us?
Future is quite unpredictable these days, but Kié Einzelgänger will never stop on creating. My biggest lessons last year was to evolve at my own pace keep building strong soil as I age. I’m also curious where it will take me to.
Photography: Marco Giuliano / @marcogiulianoph
Styling: Anca Macavei / @ancamacavei
Fashion: Kié Einzelgänger / @kie_einzelganger_official @kie_einzelganger
Shoes: Marsell / @marsell.official
Editorial assistant: Inga Lavarini / @ilavarini
Interview: Maylyn Bertorelli / @twiggymay
Set design using: Backdrops Canvas / @backdrops_canvas
Model: Yasmin at Next Models / @yasmin.bilderbeek @nextmodelsmilan