At the tender age of 25, Korean-American designer Andrew Kwon has made quite a name for himself already. Luxury Education Foundation (LEF) Scholarship receiver; finalist in Supima Design Competition 2019; inventor of thesis collection showcased at both the NYFW and PFW, as well as proudly displayed in the lavish windows of Neiman Marcus and adorned by Game of Thrones starlet Nathalie Emmanuel for the cover story of Nylon; and star graduate of the mecca of creativity and style — Parsons School of Design, Kwon certainly knows a thing or two about collecting titles. If you haven’t heard of him yet, that’s because his academically acclaimed talent has largely been kept within the scholar world of fashion. Until now. In a bold move on Valentine’s Day, Kwon is decidedly a kept secret of the fashion institutes no more: his debut bridal collection, named “Collection 1: Reminiscence”, launched a series of feminine yet modern designs dedicated to pandemic brides.
Surprisingly, fashion wasn’t Kwon’s first major at Parsons. “I was studying architecture and interior design as a freshman, and absolutely loved the way buildings look; I loved the facade – I love beautiful things.” Kwon tells me. But the technical side did not click with him the same way. Kwon soon realised that it was hard to see how his design would come to life in these areas, and that he would need to decide whether to switch into fashion full time. Faced with the reality of having to graduate a year later than expected, and feeling nervous of his directional choice, Kwon says it was support from the most important people in his life that gave him the confidence to pursue this path, and breaking traditions.
It would seem that the choice paid off. “I started to hear people telling me how amazing my design was.” Kwon recalls. “I view fashion as a way for individuals to create confidence for themselves. It’s about making the dream and fantasy a reality.” Kwon’s inspiration came from his stylish mother, who used fashion as a way to build confidence for herself during trying times. “And that’s what I want to create for other women. Now.” Kwon says.
“I want to push the boundaries of couture craftsmanship with modern practicality.” Kwon explains his goal to combine intricate embellishments, couture-esque fit, and the luxurious feel of carefully chosen fabrics. Kwon’s inaugural collection also pays homage to his small town upbringing in Colorado, as he wants to dedicate the pieces to those brides whose only red carpet event in their lives may just be their wedding day. “So every girl can have that sophisticated moment in her life —bridging the ethereal with the everyday, especially during this pandemic.”
When asked why the collection is titled “Reminiscence”, Kwon tells me that the name represents all the memories that are related to how he created and sketched the designs, taking notes from not only his past two collections, but also his love for greek mythology, for emotional yet dramatic music that he likes to have in the background when he designed, and for visually stunning moments that would pop up in his mind randomly such as Queen’s Gambit or figure skating. “I would have so much coming at me in my mind!” The eponymous designer says with a chuckle.
The collection is femininely dainty yet with an underlying superwoman tone. One can expect an array of different designs that spell Kwon’s understanding of bridal: soft opulence in elegantly gathered tulle and delicate floral embellishments; flirtatious allure in super-thin spaghetti straps and strategically placed lacy materials; show-stopping drama in the sensational, overflown skirt that has fast become a Kwon classic. The collection does not follow the popular trend of accentuating a female body to the extreme, but rather enhances the sophisticated feminine charm by clever use of draping, flares, semi see-through panels and girlish yet breathtaking veils. “I don’t want to be overly experimental.” Despite his love for modern designs, Kwon is not one to push a coloured gown as part of his bridal collection. “I want the brides to feel attractive yet comfortable.”
In a world where outsourcing to cheaper locations is common amongst fashion brands, Kwon insists on all pieces being developed in his Manhattan studio and most importantly, produced locally right in the middle of the Garment District in New York. “It is expensive to do things in the city, but thats where I’m confident in finding the best.”
Despite having received countless compliments on his work and mingled in the most glitzy social settings that he calls work (he counts Olivia Palermo as close friend and support network), Kwon remains endearingly enthusiastic and wide-eyed about the industry of fashion which embraced him with such ease that is uncommonly seen. He considers his experience and friendships formed over the past few years “incredible” and still cannot believe he was so lucky to be on the receiving end of not only prizes but also kindness from many.
Standing at the starting line of his career, Kwon has big plans for his future and bridal isn’t the only project on his table. From his internship years at Marchesa and Vera Wang, lavish design is deeply engraved in Kwon’s DNA and he is distinctly passionate about gowns that are red carpet worthy. However, he also hopes to have a diffusion line one day that gives every day women the chance to dress in his beautiful and lush pieces at affordable prices.
Andrew Kwon’s bridal collection “Reminiscence” has a price range of $5,000 – $10,000. Enquiries can be made through his official website.