Born and raised in Jinju, South Korea, Heo spent a year studying in Illinois as an exchange student before enrolling on the Foundation course at Central Saint Martins. Heo graduated from BA Fashion Design with Print in 2017, winning the prestigious L’Oréal Professionnel Young Talent Award with a collection that paraded Heo’s whimsical vision of menswear, layering scarlet-hued shorts over a Prince-of-Wales suit jacket. The same spirit streamed into her MA collection, featuring fitted leotards, adorned with delicate, flowing chiffon and playful plastic codpieces. The collection was deserving of a second L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award, resulting in her becoming the first designer to be bestowed with both prizes.
Since swooping into Fashion East’s nurturing nest in 2019, Heo has produced multiple collections that are disruptive, strangely sensuous, and at the forefront of what is new. Heo’s new Autumn/Winter collection marks her first time combining womenswear and menswear, a natural evolution for Heo, who perceives her clothes as unisex: “My focus is more on the wearer’s individual character and style.” Heo encapsulated the essence of our fearsome and frail times, fusing precise tailoring with fluid drapery. Hooded silhouettes breathed and crawled up the wearer, engulfing the body in shadowy layers.
But the process of constructing this collection was not without its scares. Delayed fabric, Covid-related shortage of staff, and the early implications of Brexit, all posed new challenges. Yet, Heo’s motivation for her work did not dwindle. She is about to launch her e-commerce website, and after successfully collaborating with photographer Trinity Ellis this season, she wishes to work with more Asian creatives. But for now, Heo is embracing the idea of uncertainty and the artistic possibilities that can arise with it. “It’s not the fear of the unknown, it’s the anticipation of what’s next,” the designer muses. “In this industry, you can’t predict where you will be next month.”