Fashion designer Ashlynn Park redefines the basics with an artistic eye
The fashion industry is known for spearheading a rapid trend cycle and spawning novelty brand collaborations left and right. Neoteric creations are exciting, holding people’s attention for a season or two before fading away. Every once in a while, however, there are designers who go against the grain – who choose to cut all the buzz in order to revisit the building blocks of her wardrobe and refine them. Fashion designer Ashlynn Park is one of those creatives who embrace the idea of slow fashion.
The South Korean designer launched her eponymous label, ASHLYN (spelled without the extra n), in 2019 with a singular goal: to master the art of couture through a modern lens. For Park, a plain white button-up shirt is transformed into an off-the-shoulder top with a wool bustier on top, a crepe suit jacket is reworked with elongated ties and bondage suspenders (paired with cotton poplin shirts). cotton that explore unexpected folds). Women’s clothing is sculptural yet wearable and Never boring.
“ASHLYN [designs] are modern interpretations of traditional tailoring. [I pay] particular attention to fit with references to historical silhouettes and [create] minimal designs,” Park told TZR on a Zoom call. “My intention is for each collection to buck trends and be worn season after season.”
Her thoughtful, restrained eye was embodied in Park’s debut Fall/Winter 2021 collection. The range was a mix of strong deconstructed seams juxtaposed with bulky shapes and minimal knit dresses. The color palette was a soothing mix of black, white, caramel – with a splash of cardinal red as the skirt. The collection, titled “Hibernation,” served as a fashionable wake-up call from the sweatpants-induced slumber of the past two years. Park’s dresses, with whimsical cutouts in the back, invited dreams of parties and vacations. It was the perfect re-emergence.
Park completed these 17 looks alone, from the basement of her New Jersey home in January 2021.”[It was a crazy time] because I had no sewers and all the factories were closed. I decided to embroider [all the looks] myself,” she recalls. Thus, each piece has been adapted and adjusted to perfection under his watchful eye.
This attention to detail and precision in Park’s designs reflects his formative years as a pattern maker. After winning Japan’s prestigious SO-EN award in 2008, she launched her fashion career in this position for renowned designer Yohji Yamamoto and his menswear line. It was there that Park honed her skills in sewing and pattern making, the latter area in which she had little experience before her position with the Japanese brand.
“Working for Yohji early in my career instilled in me a great respect for the incredible artistry he put into his work, [especially] attention to every detail and focus on perfecting the interior construction of the garment,” says Park. “I will continue to work this way and share this with my team and future generations of designers.”
With a keen eye for craftsmanship under her belt, Park then took her technical talents to New York in 2011. Her fashion stints included designing runway pieces at Alexander Wang and collaborating with Raf Simons during his tenure as creative director of Calvin Klein 205W39NYC. When she officially launched ASHLYN in 2019, Park was in a prime position to take the reins as creative director.
The Spring/Summer 2022 collection reflects Park’s mastery of turning conceptual ideas into wearable works of art. The title was “Capturing the Now”, where she explored what it means to be present. According to her designer notes, the designs included “deep pleats and ruffles in puffy organic cotton sleeves and cinched waists to reflect the creases of time.” Meanwhile, the Renata dress was created via “intricate draping techniques that captured the design process in real time.” The simplistic palette of black, white and red remained in this seasonal roundup – a Park signature (along with the inclusions of splashes of soft blue and salmon pink).
One of Park’s main assignments for her label is closely tied to her penchant for forgoing trend-driven fast fashion. The designer integrates several thoughtful and earth-conscious components into ASHLYN. For one thing, all of Park’s pieces are made to order. “I don’t produce a garment until an order or a sale is confirmed,” she says. “I also offer bespoke tailoring – a pre-order option that allows me to responsibly create custom garments that are only produced after an order is received. My business model is based on the principle of eliminating the waste in my creations.
She takes this last idea a step further with her Zero Waste capsule collections. In her Spring/Summer 2022 collection, for example, she used a draping technique to construct many looks. Here, a large piece of fabric is draped over a body form to create the silhouette. This differs from a cut and sew method, where various shapes are cut from a square piece of material and then sewn together to create the shape. This can result in scraps of unused fabric. (If there are excess clippings, Park uses them to stuff the capped bumrolls under many of his clothes.)
The designer also shares that she favors the use of low-impact natural fibers such as linen, iterated wool and organic cotton. Her materials are sourced from Japan while the pieces themselves are handcrafted in her design studio, located in New York’s garment district.
As we wrap up our conversation, I ask Park for details on her upcoming Fall/Winter 2022 collection. Naturally, she refuses to divulge what surprises she has in store. For the curious, however, one need only look back to his previous works to know that this new range will exemplify craftsmanship and celebrate a timeless aesthetic.
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