One To Watch: Seoul-Based Designer Kathleen Kye

Looks from KYE’s Fall 2014 New York Fashion Week show
Photo: Courtesy of KYE

The way KYE is stylized in all caps, you’d think it was an acronym: clever shorthand for some elusive phrase apropos of EVERYTHING that you’ll never be inner-circle enough to know because these clothes are THAT cool. Well, it’s not. I mean, the clothes actually are 100% that cool, but KYE takes its name from the line’s brilliant designer, Kathleen Kye. There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Kye or her namesake label, and that’s totally understandable seeing as she’s only been showing for a handful of seasons and has only recently branched into womenswear. BUT we have a feeling that’s aaaaall about to change very soon. I mean, look at this collection! I want to wear everything right NOW.

First, a little crash course on Kye to get you up to speed. She was born in Detroit, but studied at London’s world famous Central St. Martins, ultimately ending up with an MA in the school’s menswear program. While across the pond, she showed this irreverent, imaginative Body Collection and garnered a lot of attention for her work. Fast-forward to today: She’s based in Seoul, South Korea, where her KYE runway streetwear line is produced. She’s already been worn by K Pop stars like CL and 4minute as well as streetwear-savvy UK darlings like Rita Ora, but she’s ready and poised to grow roots stateside.

Looks from KYE’s Fall 2014 New York Fashion Week show
Photo: Courtesy of KYE

A quick spin through her design history will reveal that this is Kye’s most streamlined offering to date—dialing way back on the kooky proportions and eye-bugging prints. “The new collection is slightly more modern and has a more clean look,” she told us. “Especially for the New York show, the stylist Tina Chai and I wanted to show KYE looking more contemporary for the New York crowd.” But while clean and minimalist can often translate as boring, this collection stands out for its risky experimentation with unexpected pairings of fabric weights and bold colors to break up winter’s typically dull color palette.

Most interesting, IMHO, is the Cuban-link embossing technique Kye uses across sweaters and down the sides of pants—her variation on cable knits, a cold-weather style staple. And to our surprise, she revealed, “It looks very heavy and chunky, but it’s actually super light!” On the music tip (you know we can’t stay away from it!), Kye told us that she listens to a lot of rap in the studio, and come show time that was definitely evident. Not just in the silhouettes she sent down the runway (crop top + baggy pants, we’d like to introduce you to Ciara, and thigh-high slit numbers, please meet Rihanna), her presentation was soundtracked to a chopped and screwed version of (of COURSE) A$AP Rocky’s “Fashion Killa.”

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