New Designers: Jennifer Chun
Interview by Derek Lam. Chun assisted Lam at Michael Kors and at Lam's own line.
- Button-downs are Chun's signature but never in solid white.
- Chun used to cut up her mother's plaid skirts—the inspiration behind a key look in her new line.
HOW SHE STARTED: The native Ohioan ditched the pre-law track at American University in D.C. to enroll in New York City's Pratt Institute.
WHY WE LOVE HER: Chun uses a chic palette and graphic lines—and her separates are unbelievably wearable.
DL: Before this interview I wasn't aware you were doing a line. How long has it been?
JC: A year and a half. I never really expressed to you: You have been a big mentor for me.
DL: I'm glad that I gave you the confidence. You were an amazing intern and always asked the right questions.
JC: Do you see your influence in my work?
DL: What I noticed was the clarity of lines, your sense of tailoring. I don't know if that was my influence or the evolution of your taste. I've always loved putting a little twist in the detailing, and that I can totally see in your collection in the buttons and fur collars. I love all of the mix and textures its very sophisticated, in the essence of the word.
JC: I do like small details. I still think: what would Derek do in this situation? Whenever your name comes up, people get dreamy-eyed.
DL: Maybe it's my good looks. I think every designer has their moments where they want to pull their hair out or break down over decisions. But the most important thing I always ask myself is "how do we make the product better, how do we make the experience better." How are you handling starting a collection in this economy?
JC: It's keeping me efficient and reminding me to constantly tighten up my collection. I would love your advice on how to take creativity and turn it into a business.
DL: The reality is that it's about the work: Get people emotionally involved. I think that there's a real place for sophistication, and you've done it in such a playful manner and what's great to see that it's sportswear. Sportswear is so hard to do because it's not about separate pieces — it's the whole scope of how this person is dressing and how she can build a wardrobe with your line and it looks great. Your line looks amazing. I give you an A+.