Hovering 24 miles above Earth, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner recently said, ‘Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you really are.’ Pairing high ambitions with humble words, he then fell from the sky, becoming the world’s first supersonic skydiver somewhere along the way.
Speaking quietly with one hand to his ear, fashion designer Eudon Choi evokes the same disarming pairing – honest humility and true talent. Since launching his label three years ago, Choi has earned numerous accolades in a story that is fast embedding itself in fashion folklore. The potted version goes like this: Choi works as a menswear designer in his native Korea; moves to London to take his place on the Royal College of Art’s prestigious MA course; designs for All Saints and Twenty8Twelve; starts own womenswear label and rises through London’s fashion ranks. His highlights so far? ‘I’d have to say being featured on Style.com, meeting fashion royalty like Anna Wintour and showing on-schedule at London Fashion Week.’
For his second on-schedule show Choi looked skywards and took inspiration from sixties styling via Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Stardust silver, night-sky navy and moonshine milk glistened and shone in Space Oddity, Choi’s SS13 collection. Flat blocks of matt colour were offset by high-shine patent leather on raincoats, boxy jackets and sharply tailored separates. Well received and wearable, his clothes adorn the people who pen his reviews. A big tick of approval surely? Choi’s not yet convinced: ‘I just don’t believe the hype. It’s great to hear that there is a buzz around my label, but it’s really hard to feel it because I spend all my time in the studio. I work seven days a week and I don’t go to any parties.’ And therein lies a clue to his success.
Discussing the breakthrough of fashion’s Asian designers in recent years (NY’s Joseph Altuzarra is a personal favourite), Choi refers to Korea’s ‘crazy work ethic.’ It is clear that this is deeply ingrained in him. Despite his growing list of international stockists (soon to include The Shop at Bluebird for SS13), Choi employs only one assistant and one intern. Not only does he cut all of his patterns pre-shows, he also manages the production of his orders, sending invoices and working tirelessly to ensure the success of his business. Eschewing pie-in-the-sky wishes, Choi focuses instead on his next small steps: ‘Each season my work moves forward and changes a little. An element of me remains in the work but as a contemporary British designer, I like to push forward every season and do something new. I don’t want to be stuck in the same place doing the same thing.’ As an audience of fashion industry insiders recently discovered, Choi has far too much ambition to stay still for long.
In the sparkling setting of the Swarovski Crystallized store on Great Marlborough Street, Choi spoke with Lauretta Roberts (from trend forecasting agency WGSN) in an interview organised by fashion networking group The Industry. There were pleading cries for a menswear line (a possibility for the future, Choi conceded) and questions about who would ideally front future campaigns, to which Choi replied that he did not think it was very modern to define his customer in such narrow terms. When pushed on the ideal Eudon Choi woman, he plumped for 70’s model Verushcka – a recent obsession of his.
So what will follow his space-themed SS13 collection? A completely new theme, Choi assures us. However, as his star continues to rise so does expectation about what he will deliver, a consequence the spotlight-averse designer is all too aware of: ‘The season before last was definitely the worst season, because I felt a lot of pressure for my on-schedule debut. And then again I felt it this season because AW12 was so well received. But even my first season, when I was going into Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s Ones To Watch, I thought, oh my god, people will watch. And then the next season I won the Merit Award and I thought, oh my god, a solo show. Each season it gets worse.’ Choi also confirms that he is learning to deal with the attention better. Yet, how does he plan to combat future stress as his growing status attracts more watchful eyes? Simple. ‘I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing,’ he says. What more could we ask for?
Words by Julia O’Doherty
TagsEudon Choi, Julia O'Doherty,