Representing the creative future

The New MA Graduates: Seyoung Hong

In her lavender, olive green and grey hues, Seyoung shows us how to get levity out of gravity as she strips the excess and unnecessary away to form her lightweight and fluid MA collection. Originally from a Fine Art background specialising in Oriental studies, we ask Seyoung about her transition from painstaking and meticulous brush work, to the manic and high tempo environment of CSM. Revealing her secret technique that gives her collection exquisite fluidity and grace, Seyoung shows us how femininity can be found in masculine subjects.


What’s the focus subject of the collection?

I was interested in layering fabrics, draping and creating flow in garments, as an important thing in my collection is fluidity and movement. I did research into abnormal feminine design as I am always inspired by unfeminine research. I think my role as a designer is to find ways to transfer really masculine things into femininity — I love to think about that transition. I always made little collages first, which looked like the garment, but it could’ve been a silhouette or details. Then I started to toile. I didn’t want to use colours that were too bright and kept my palette quite neutral with greyish pinks, and deep smoky olive green colours.

What kind of techniques did you explore in the collection?

I spent a lot of time playing with the weight of the fabric and exploring ways to make it lighter. I found a really thick crepe fabric and started to bond several fabrics, which made it heavier. Fabio [Piras, MA Fashion course director] suggested making it lighter, and I initially didn’t know how to do it, so I started creating lots of toiles in different fabrics, and I found a way of mixing single layers of fabric with bonding material where you basically can’t see the stitching on the garment. But, there is stitching inside, in between the layers. It’s my secret technique!

What was the most difficult challenge you experienced whilst creating the collection?

The first thing was speed, because compared to textiles students, womenswear students are really alone. We don’t have any helpers, whereas other textiles students have four to five people to help them; so in terms of speed we are so slow! (laughs)


It’s often more challenging to strip design back – what made you take the minimalist approach?

To make the garments very lightweight I had to cut all the details from them. If you see my first designs, there are so many details to them, but I wanted the collection to have better movement. When I was doing the toile fittings I’d tell the model to walk around the hallway so I could see and judge the amount of movement each time. It’s quite hard to throw away all the details, but it is kind of my style to be minimalist in design. Fabio helped me a lot with that, cutting all the details, accessories and unnecessary features away.

What led you from studying a Graduate Diploma in Fashion at Central Saint Martins to the MA?

I wanted to do the MA before I did the Diploma, but I didn’t have any fashion experience because I majored in Fine Arts in Korea. So I needed the course as a first step to explore fashion, and it was really helpful and interesting for me. We had five projects in nine weeks and that made me work quickly and efficiently… But then again, the MA is just a completely different place! (laughs). I felt like it would be quite similar in the terms of work, but when I got into the MA and saw Louise’s face I just thought “ah, this is not going to be easy…” I think that doing BA Fashion is important, because normally a lot of the MA students have all come from there. But the diploma was good as well, as a small step before MA.

How does Korean art school compare to studying at CSM?

Based on my college it’s totally different. In Korea, all the professors keep their distance so we can barely talk to them when we are in the first or second year. When we got into the final year, we could finally speak to them but there is still that lack of conversation between tutors and the pupils. I think CSM is a much more active place for working and studying with each other and it’s a better place for art students.


What made you jump on a flight to London?

I was thinking about New York first of all because I didn’t have any information about CSM, and I thought it only did massive crazy things. Then I found out that there are so many minimalists here and so many graduates working in fashion houses and making their own labels as well, so I was quite fascinated about that. I didn’t know about the minimalists in CSM (laughs), and then I realised there were so many opportunities here.

How does your background in fine art come into play as a designer?

The real name of my fine art degree is Oriental Painting, so it focused on really oriental, traditional things. I learnt about really specific drawing styles — for example we learn about how to draw hair in every detail, drawing each strand hundreds of times and it takes normally around two months to finish one portrait. I think doing the degree has made me draw really carefully and made me think about how to design in a specific way; focusing on the small details of things is what I’m good at.

When you look back at yourself in your Graduate Diploma to now, how do you feel you have changed the most?

I think what I did in the Diploma was doing more experimental because I didn’t think about creating a runway collection, as we only had to do one outfit for the final collection. I didn’t know about how to produce the whole collection. Getting onto the MA has really made me learn how to make and organise a whole collection of 12 pieces for a final show.