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.