Yoonki Sander Yoo does not hide her exhaustion with the hustle and bustle of London life while sitting across from me drinking an iced Americano in the café outside Central Saint Martins. Like most recent graduates, her love-hate relationship with the Capital has become transparent.

Originally from Seoul, Yoonki always knew the most important thing for her was the environment she studied in, “I’m usually very inspired by my surroundings. For example, when I’m on the bus or the tube I observe the people who pass by and how they wear what they wear. Graffiti on the walls of the city would often come to me as colour inspirations. I also love going to art galleries, they’re always a good place to fish out inspirations. In that aspect, London, made perfect sense.” Yoonki is currently planning to head home for the summer after graduating from Menswear. She wants to reenergise herself before potentially heading back to pursue her place on the MA.

The main concept of Yoonki’s California inspired collection stemmed from the idea of a single garment being patchworked together, giving a classic shirt or jacket a new identity. What may look like a traditional jacket from afar, reveals numerous surprises once you get close enough to see its subtle deconstruction. More often than not inspired by photography, her menswear collection was influenced by Slim Aarons imagery, mixed with Miami Vice pool party vibes. As she flicks through her portfolio, I am presented with collaged images of men and women in fancy poolside dress, couples floating in water and general holiday snaps. The photography section in the CSM library was her favourite place to look for research, “When I see a photo, I’m not only drawn to the people and what they’re wearing but I’m also drawn to the mood, the moment forever captured by that frame. So, when I start a project the mood often comes from a photography series or book.”

The original inspiration of Hollywood pool party imagery was dissected down to the last detail to give Yoonki subtle ideas on cut and silhouette. Focusing on the movement of people in the pool and where the water meets their skin, she followed these lines in her images so she could then translate them onto the garment. She found cutting ideas in the way bathing suits sat on the body and explored the shapes created by shadows, light and tan lines on the skin. Yoonki used these natural shapes as the fundamentals of where to connect garments together and where to collage and place her fabric combinations.

After completing the initial research, Yoonki developed her ideas further by experimenting with fabric manipulation, and fusing fabrics together to create off the shoulder jackets that fell at precise angles but retained their shape. She achieved this by cutting through her garments and adding inserts of lightweight or heavy fabric. This led her to explore the construction of a garment and how fabrics worked harmoniously rather than just the silhouette being the main focus. She ended our conversation by explaining how the most important part of her work has always been the moment she starts creating design in 3D, “I consider the line-up development the most important step in my design process, because it’s at that stage that I can visualise the collection and make sure that it comes together like a family.”

Words Naomi Barling