Korean-American designer Andrew Kwon had always imagined dressing women for the red carpet. The pandemic prompted him to change direction and focus on bridal fashion.
“I knew I would have a bride someday,” said Mr. Kwon, 25, who grew up in Colorado Springs and came to New York City in 2014. “I also knew I couldn’t stay home in waiting for Covid to go away. The brides were going to get married again. Weddings could be smaller or they would be postponed, but they needed their moment on the red carpet, which is walking down the aisle. “
Mr. Kwon spent months reflecting on life and his career, and then he got creative. As of December 2020, he had six dresses and two veils. Her first bridal collection, Reminiscence, debuted at the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Runway360, a digital platform for designers to publish their collections through videos and lookbooks anchored around Fashion Week and Fashion Week. married in New York.
This fall, he returns with his second collection, Dreamer. “I am a dreamer and everyone deserves the chance to believe in themselves,” he said.
In preparation for his release, Mr. Kwon conducted an outdoor photo and video shoot showcasing his 11-piece collection at Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers, NY, which will again be featured on Runway360 on October 6. Private appointments in his studio in the clothing district. will follow.
What motivated your passion for bridal design?
In 2016, my mother remarried my stepfather. I remember the emotions I felt during the day and the emotions my mother felt when walking down the aisle. The trials she went through, the new chapter she was entering, the light at the end of the tunnel for her – it was an incredibly inspiring experience for me. I wanted to create that strength and resilience for other women.
What makes your wedding creations different from others?
I create a visual story. There is a story in the dress and the story the bride tells. When these two stories come together, that’s when the magic happens. My designs are modern, sleek and chic with a twist – interesting cuts, dramatic drapes in the back, and layering of different silk fabrics, such as crepe de chine, chiffon and tulle. I’m interested in movement, how the dress follows the bride and how she moves with her as she walks. The exciting moment is when nature organically moves the dress and you see it blowing and scooping up on the fabrics, especially if the room has floral embroidery or metallic lace. You can see and experience the opulence of highlights and colors.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I always start with a memory, an emotion, something that I saw of a performance that marked me, like Sophia Lucia, who is this incredible dancer from San Diego; or even music like Abel Korzeniowski, Andrea Bocelli and Katherine Jenkins. These set a certain tone. It encourages reflection, inspiration and gives me strength when drawing or designing.
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What’s your process?
Once I’m inspired, I start drawing, which I do at my dining room table in my apartment near Bryant Park. An image appears in my head when I am in this place that I am able to descend. I love to create moments, proportions and placement of embroidery in the dress. Next, I explore the fabric choices. The development takes place in my studio. I have a team of six people, including a seamstress, a cutter, a pattern maker and a workshop manager. We discuss the sketch and its meaning. Models are created digitally; draping occurs on the mannequins. It may take two to four months for a full collection to run.
You did your first series of trunk shows this year; how have they helped your career?
Hair salons are wonderful because you interact with the brides and the shopper in the store. My first was for 10 days in Bergdorf, Manhattan, right after Bridal Fashion Week in April, then Neiman Marcus, in Dallas, for five days. It allowed people to see my work for the first time. It gave me strength and confidence, and an impetus to continue. I had heard a lot of nays from retailers and other stores, who during Covid weren’t saying yes to new designers like me. Both department stores asked me to be part of their bridal salon, which prompted other bridal shops to be interested in me. It was also a great education to see what brides gravitate towards and what they don’t like.
What was the motivation behind Dreamer?
Mythology occupies a large place in my work. I wanted to create modern day goddesses and sartorial art. Each of the 11 dresses is named after a goddess. The collection features various weights of silk, metallic brocades, and white and metallic lace, some of which feature beautiful, intricate artwork. Eight dresses are white; three are colored. These were inspired by a trip I took in July to Provence, France. It was my first time there. The soft blue reminded me of the sky. A soft but bold green was reminiscent of the hills. A pastel yellow tulle ball gown reminded me of the sun shining on them.
Why did you decide to shoot your collection at Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers?
It is the most beautiful place. It’s as mythological as the collection. And both have a touch of modernism. The place is transcendent and peaceful and open to the public. It was founded in the early 1900s by Samuel J. Untermyer, and it has a fascinating history. There is music when you enter, there are extraordinary flowers and plants, trees, stones, sculptures, columns and waterfalls. I wanted to capture nature and its role in the movement of dresses and be able to capture sunlight on fabrics.
As an Asian-American, have you felt embraced by the industry?
I have always felt supported by the fashion industry. But being an Asian American during Covid and watching all the Asian hatred happen was very difficult and sad to see. The world needed beauty. This is partly why I made my collection. I couldn’t stop the Asian hate, but I could put something beautiful in the world and let people feel there was hope, and let the Asian community know that they could still achieve their goals. and find inspiration from others, like me, who were contributing, and follow their dreams during this time.
What is your favorite moment?
When a bride puts on the dress for the first time and sees herself in the mirror and puts her hand over her mouth and a sound escapes, and then nothing. There is just this silence, which you can feel. Their eyes widen and their expression changes and then freezes. When they are silent, all these thoughts go through their heads. It is a very strong moment, of which I am a part and which I witness at the same time.