Tuesday, February 18, 2014

NYFW Fall 2014: Karolyn Pho Backstage, Interview & Show

I found myself backstage at the Katherine Pho stage last week, surrounded by beautiful ladies with perfectly messy hair that had intentional frizz added in. The textural hair paired well with the soft brown doe eyes that involved plenty of black mascara and soft eyebrows. Lips are every so slightly rosy as are the peachy soft cheeks.
In the midst of the frenzy of models, and photographers and the patiently waiting dressers, I had a chance to meet with the designer, Karolyn Pho. Karolyn began her career in the film industry as a wardrobe stylist before launching her label in 2012. Despite this being is her first collection during NYFW but she was cool as a cucumber, speaking very frankly to press, including myself while the rows filled up at Pier 59 Studios.
See my interview with her below:
SRC: What are your earliest fashion memories
Karolyn Pho: Pre-school, getting dressed up every morning and taking an hour to get ready. I mean, it was everything, my socks, my shoes, my whole hair concept. My mom would kill me, she would spend hours doing this one bun and if one hair was out of place, good Lord! So it started at a very young age.

SRC: So was the bun and all the clothes your idea?
KP: I was definitely directing it. "Hey can you braid this? Can you do that?"

SRC: Having worked in the film industry before as a stylist, how does that influence your design.
KP: The work itself doesn't inspire design but film in general, I get inspired by films. I think me working in film was just a segway with how tangible it is technically. Gaining that knowledge.

SRC: Was there anything that sparked your change of career path or was being a designer what you always wanted to do?
KP: It wasn't alway what I wanted to do. I started out styling thinking, "Wow, I wanted to be a fashion editor". Styling led into costume design and I just really loved (it). For some of the stuff I was doing, I was creating pieces that were very period or surreal and just specializing in these things. And I just loved clothes and creating these things that don't exist and that for me was like, "Oh maybe I should just do this". On top my education, I was studying Fashion Merchandising which was heavy in merchandising, marketing and all of that business end of things. It all just sort of fell into place.

SRC: Who is your muse or ideal woman?
KP: I don't, I think she is always going to be changing. The woman herself though is classic, she's elegant, she's confident and strong. She's a strong woman.

SRC: As and emerging designer, what have been greatest challenges?
KP: Challenges, in the beginning was was creating and having to listen to what other people had to say. Criticism, good and bad. It was hard not to be emotional about it. It was hard not get your feelings hurt. I think it's something that any artist creating, whatever it is, you have to detach yourself from that if you really want to make it a marketable and viable product.

SRC: Tell me a little a bit about your inspiration for this concept.
KP: I was thinking a lot about kinetic energy and how ancient Egyptians were using using this kinetic energy via these pyramids to get to this portal to an afterlife or something unknown that they don' know of, and it's this concept that is very futuristic. It's something so ancient and it's something so new fused together and that's still kind of apparent now to us as humans. What happens after we die? Everbody wants to know, we still don't know. So I like the idea that A. it's still happening from then and B. it's so archaic and something so old and that's really what I try to infuse in the whole technical aspect of the collection.

SRC: Is there a song that's currently stuck in your head?
KP: The whole Beak album actually. Beak is this band that the guys from Portishead started. I've been listening to that album on repeat.

SRC: Where would you like to see the band in the next few years?
KP: I think the direction is now is good, financially, yeah I want to be in bigger stores but as long as I'm doing what I'm doing and the concept is still true, I'm happy.
By the time the runway show started, I was curious how a collection with such a mysterious inspiration would evolve. The collection is simultaneously feminine and masculine with soft pleat skirts balancing the sleek tuxedo vests and trousers. The silhouettes in this collection play up clean and linear angles that flatter the female form.  particularly like the way the hems of some of the cropped pants are gently angled around the calves. Tanks are layered over tees creating a luxe sporty effect, while two tone tops and dresses give a slimming effect.
The color palette this season plays with the textures of black in addition to cobalt blue, oxblood red, nude and metallic gold. Sheer organza and mesh are layered over other fabrics creating a dimensional look.

Snake skins panels layer over garments creating shimmering stripes across the chest and down the back of dresses. Exposed zippers add a bit of industrial grit. There is something very minimalistic about the designs that I am drawn to. Even though the shapes are clean and simple, the overall look is still edgy thanks to the proportions and fabric choices. The path of Karolyn Pho's evolution is sure to be interesting and I can't wait to see it.

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